Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

Boating & Paddling

Brianna's Law requires all motorboat operators to complete a boating safety course and obtain a certificate from the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. New age requirements begin January 1, 2020, with full compliance by January 1, 2025.

Sign up for DEC Delivers

Enter email address:

New York State has more than 7,500 lakes, ponds and reservoirs and over 70,000 miles of rivers and streams. Boating on these waterbodies can take the form of canoes, kayaks, personal watercraft, sailboats and motorboats. Many lakes, ponds and streams in the Forest Preserves are restricted (link leaves DEC website) to non-motorized boating.

Places to Boat

Launching boat at ramp

DEC provides many boat access points at campgrounds and fishing access spots in the Adirondack and Catskills. This includes both car top and trailer access sites.

Find your next adventure using DECinfo Locator - an interactive map featuring boat launches, hand launches, fishing spots, parking areas, and other information to help you enjoy the state's lakes and waterways.

The publication titled "New York State Boat Launching Sites (PDF)" has recently been updated. It contains a listing of boating access and launching areas available to the public. Other helpful information on launching and retrieving your boat and aquatic invasive species is included. If interested in obtaining a hard copy of the New York State Boat Launching Sites Directory, send an email to Fisheries and include your name, mailing address and publication you are requesting.

Register Your Motorized Boat

In New York, watercraft without a motor do not need to be registered. If you use a motor (electric or fuel-driven), no matter how small the craft or the motor, you must register your boat with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). You can either register your boat online (leaving DEC website) or call the DMV at (518) 486-9786.

Boating Requirements and Safety

For more information about boating requirements & boating safety, please call the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historical Preservation (OPRHP) at (518) 474-0456 or visit the OPRHP boating page (leaving DEC website).

You Can Help Stop Aquatic Invasive Species

Boats, trailers, waders and other fishing equipment can spread invasive species from waterbody to waterbody unless properly cleaned after use. Regulations now prohibit boats from launching from or leaving DEC launch sites without first draining the boat and cleaning the boat, trailer and equipment of visible plant and animal material. Many New York counties, towns, and villages also have laws in place that prohibit the transport of aquatic invasive species on boats, trailers and equipment. Although some invasive species such as water milfoil are visible to the human eye, many others are too small to be easily noticed.

To avoid spreading invasive species please follow the following guidelines or view our step by step guide to cleaning your boat and equipment:

  1. Inspect your boat and equipment and remove any visible mud, plants, fish or animals before moving it.
  2. Drain all water from equipment before transporting.
  3. Clean and dry anything that comes into contact with water including boats, trailers, waders, bait buckets and other boating and fishing equipment. Boaters should pay careful attention to bait and live wells and bilge areas that are difficult to dry.
  4. Disinfect if you cannot dry equipment.
  5. Never release plants, fish or animals into a body of water unless they came out of that body of water.

Many public boat launches have boat stewards present on-site to help you check your watercraft and gear for aquatic plants and animals.

Boat Washing Stations

Use our interactive map to find a public boat launch with a free, seasonal boat decontamination station. The map also includes launches with boat stewards who can help you check your watercraft for invasive hitchhikers.

Marina, Lake Associations and Private Boat Launch Operators

Help us prevent the spread of aquatic nuisance invasive species by installing an invasive species disposal station at your facility. Also provided are standard signs reminding users to check, clean, drain, dry and disinfect their boats and equipment before using it at another location. These files can be downloaded and printed on a desktop printer for indoor applications or taken to a sign shop for mounting on weather resistant materials.

More about Boating & Paddling:

  • Paddling - General information on paddling in New York State includes recommended places for whitewater, flat water, and extended trips with links to rules & regulations.