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Non-Motorized Boating and Paddling

Beginning January 1, 2020, the Aquatic Invasive Species Permit required to be carried on boats 10' long and longer will be replaced by a Waterway Access Permit. The permit purchasing will include: 1 week (valid 7-days from date of purchase) for $5, 1 year for $17, and 2 years for $30. Enforcement for compliance with the permit requirements begins August 1, 2020. Fees will help fund the aquatic invasive species prevention program and a new, waterway access account for non-motorized boating facility grant projects.
For basic legal requirements for kayaks, rafts and other non-motorized boats, visit our required equipment page. 


 Purchasing Locations


Free Online Paddling Course 

The Oregon State Marine Board offers a great introduction to the waterways with a free online paddling course that's approved by the state and recognized by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA). 
The Paddle Sports Safety Course, offered through, covers state boating laws, rules of the road, how to read the waterway, what to do in case of an emergency, and other tips to enhance boater’s knowledge base and operating skills.
We’re so fortunate to have great public access to rivers, lakes, bays and the ocean in Oregon to play in. Learning how to paddle is a great way to get your feet wet in recreational boating, and by starting off with basic boating knowledge will make your experience more enjoyable and safer.

Trip Planning 

Prepare for your adventure by doing the following:
  1. Always wear a properly fitting life jacket and know how to swim in a river current.  
  2. Never paddle alone.  Bring along at least one other boater.  When paddling, two boats with two operators each, are recommended.  Three boats with two paddlers each are even better.  If unfamiliar with the waterway, paddle with someone knowledgeable. Stay in groups and don't spread out. Think of rivers like a highway, and the main channel is where motorboats are confined to operate. 
  3. Never overload the boat.  Tie-down the gear and distribute weight evenly.  
  4. Maintain a low center of gravity and three points of contact.  Keep your weight balanced over the center of the boat.
    • Standing up or moving around in a small boat can cause it to capsize –a leading cause of fatalities among paddlers.
    • Leaning a shoulder over the edge of the boat can also destabilize it enough to capsize.
  5. Stay alert at all times and be aware of your surroundings, including nearby powerboats.  Be prepared to react when dangerous situations arise. 
  6. Practice re-boarding your boat in the water with the help of a companion. 
  7. Dress properly for the water temperature and type of boating. 
  8. Check your boat for leaks. 
  9. Map a general route and timetable when embarking on a long trip.  Arrange for your vehicles to be shuttled to the takeout. 
  10. Know the weather conditions before you head out.  While paddling, watch the weather and stay close to shore.  Head for shore if the waves increase. 
See and Be Seen
 Wear bright, noticeable clothing.
  • Use reflective tape on your paddle blades.
  • Keep your whistle handy.
  • Any boat less than 20 meters should not impede the passage of a larger ship, whether under power or not.
  • Monitor channels 13 & 16 on your VHF radio.
  • At night and during restricted visibility, a white light must be shown toward on-coming traffic.
Learn more from the videos below about essential gear and boat ramp etiquette, so you can have a safe and enjoyable experience.


Sharing the Waterways
Waterways have "lanes of travel" similar to a highway system.  Know the area you plan to paddle.  If you are near commercial waterways, the navigation charts change often and you need a current set.
The depth of the channel may limit deep-draft vessels.  You, however, are mobile and agile. Make use of your ability to move out of the way.  If you are not crossing the channel, stay close to shore.  Large stationary objects offer a margin of protection. 
At night, a white light must be shown toward oncoming traffic.  Bright colors not only help keep track of fellow paddlers but make you far easier to see if separated from your boat. 
If motorized boats are nearby, you are far less likely to capsize if you turn your bow into the wave and don't take the wake broadside.
Watch this video for more tips about navigation rules of the road and paddling on multi-use waterways.

Non-Motorized Permits

Online Store to Purchase Permit

ODFW License Agents List

Oregon Water Trails

 Boat Safe Owl Sticker


Rules of the Road for Paddlers

Cross at 90 degree angles only when it's safe to do so. Motorized boats and larger vessels need deeper water to operate safey. Don't impede traffic flow and stay together in groups.  

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