Boating Regulations

Paddlers are Boaters Too

Navigation Boating Rules of the Road

In 2008, the United States Coast Guard responded to safety concerns and classified paddleboards as vessels. This means all paddlers must observe water traffic, obey buoys and signs, and give way to faster, larger vessels. It is important to keep a sharp lookout, and cross bays and marinas with extra care.

People who use paddlecraft (kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, etc.) are required to follow the Navigation Rules and:

  • Carry or wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket. Life jackets must be worn by paddlers under the age of 13.
  • Carry an efficient sound signaling device such as a loud whistle.
  • Use a white navigation light such as a strong flashlight when paddling between sunset and sunrise and during times of restricted visibility.

It is illegal to operate any watercraft while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

It is your responsibility to know federal and state boating laws and regulations.

California Boating Laws & Safety Requirements:  Visit for California boating laws and safety requirements.

In 2019, individuals 25 years or younger who operate any type of motorized vessel on California waterways, are required to pass an approved boating safety examination and carry a lifetime California Boater Card issued by the California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways. Once issued, the card remains valid for a boat operator’s lifetime. Visit to learn more.

Nevada Boating Laws & Safety Requirements:  Visit for Nevada boating laws and safety requirements.

Boaters who were born on or after January 1, 1983 are required to complete a Nevada Department of Wildlife approved boater education course before operating a boat on Nevada’s interstate waters. Learn more about Nevada boating laws with the online handbook.

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No-wake Zones

Heads UP!  Just a reminder for those of you who enjoy motorized kayaking – the latest craze – or if you are out for a water ski or other motor boating experience.

Enacted by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) in October 2018 under the new Shoreline Plan, Lake Tahoe has no-wake zones to keep all boaters, paddlers and swimmers safe, and to protect shoreline structures and erosion. Boats must stay under 5 mph when in Emerald Bay or within 600 feet from the shore, 100 feet of paddlers and swimmers, and 200 feet of shoreline structures.

For boater safety and environmental protection, TRPA has enacted several new regulations which all boaters on our multi-use lake must follow.  Please visit for all the new TRPA Shoreline ordinances and safe boating regulations, and to learn more about the TRPA EIP programs which include the Lake Tahoe Water Trail.

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