Whitewater Boating


The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is represented by this colored map.

Where to Whitewater Boat

These parks have creeks and rivers for whitewater boating.

 

Experience the challenge of conquering the rapids -- take your family and friends whitewater rafting in Pennsylvania. Bring your own raft or kayak, or use on the licenced concessionaires to guide you. Some parks have shuttle services.

Non-powered boats must display one of the following: boat registration from any state; launching permit or mooring permit from Pennsylvania State Parks that are available at most state park offices; launch use permit from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.

Know and obey the rules and regulations of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and the Department of Conservation of Natural Resources, Bureau of State Parks. For complete boating information visit the PA Fish and Boat Commission Web site.

Visit the Safety Code of American Whitewater for useful safety information.


Title 17, Chapter 11, Section 11.220, Whitewater Boating

 

(a) General requirements. The following rules apply to persons using watercraft at Ohiopyle State Park, Lehigh Gorge State Park or McConnells Mill State Park. These requirements do not apply at Lehigh Gorge State Park when the flow rate of the Lehigh River is less than 250 cubic feet per second.

(1) Wear an appropriate-sized United States Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device, Type I, III or V.

(2) Use one of the following types of watercraft in addition to complying with specific watercraft requirements in subsections (c)--(e):

(i) Noninflatable watercraft that is designed by the manufacturer for whitewater use. Noninflatable canoes and noninflatable kayaks shall have sufficient flotation to ensure that they will float when they are completely full of water.

(ii) Inflatable watercraft that has multiple air chambers of a tough durable construction intended for whitewater use, consists of a tough laminated material, and is of commercial grade. The multiple air chambers shall be in the outside tube.

(iii) Other nonmotorized watercraft approved by the Department.

(b) General prohibitions. The following are prohibited at Ohiopyle State Park, Lehigh Gorge State Park and McConnells Mill State Park:

(1) Using motorized watercraft.

(2) Using watercraft in a manner that endangers a person or property.

(3) Using a nonwatercraft device, such as an inner tube, body board, surfboard or air mattress. These devices may be used at Lehigh Gorge State Park when the flow rate of the Lehigh River is less than 250 cubic feet per second. Children 12 years of age and under shall wear a United States Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device when engaged in this activity.

(4) Possessing or using a glass container.

(c) Ohiopyle State Park. The following rules apply on the Youghiogheny River at Ohiopyle State Park. River levels are measured at the State park's river gauge at the Lower Youghiogheny River launch area.

(1) Lower Youghiogheny River. The Lower Youghiogheny River is the section of the Youghiogheny River between the base of Ohiopyle Falls and the northern most point of the river that lies within the State park. The following rules apply to persons using watercraft on the Lower Youghiogheny River:

(i) Guided tour or permit. They shall either be part of a guided tour provided by a State park-licensed concession or have a valid whitewater launch permit issued by the Department. Permits may not be transferred, assigned, altered or used to subvert their original intent. During periods when a launch area is not staffed, boaters shall sign the sign-on sheet at the contact station in lieu of obtaining a permit.

(ii) Launch and take-out. Except as provided in clauses (A) and (B), launch of watercraft shall occur only at the launch area designated by the Department and take-out shall occur only at take-out areas designated by the Department.

(A) Watercraft may be launched on tributaries entering the Youghiogheny River downstream from Ohiopyle Falls, with permission of the Department.

(B) Watercraft may be launched at Bruner's Run take-out area for the purpose of boating downstream from Bruner's Run take-out area.

(iii) Watercraft requirements. Except as provided in subparagraph (iv), the following requirements apply to watercraft used on the Lower Youghiogheny River:

(A) At river levels below 3 feet, inflatable watercraft shall be at least 8 feet long and have an outside tube diameter of at least 14 inches. This requirement does not apply to inflatable canoes and inflatable kayaks.

(B) At river levels 3 feet and above but less than 4 feet, inflatable watercraft shall be at least 12 feet long and have an outside tube diameter of at least 16 inches. Inflatable canoes and inflatable kayaks are not permitted.

(C) At river levels 4 feet and above:

(I) Inflatable watercraft shall be at least 15 feet long and have an outside tube diameter of at least 18 inches. Inflatable canoes and inflatable kayaks are not permitted.

(II) Watercraft rented from a boat rental business are not permitted.

(iv) Exceptions to watercraft requirements.

(A) State park-licensed concession watercraft are not subject to the watercraft requirements in subparagraph (iii), but are subject to the terms of the license agreement.

(B) With permission of the Department, a person may use watercraft that does not meet the requirements in subparagraph (iii) if the Department deems it safe for use, taking into account durability, buoyancy and maneuverability. This permission will not be given for watercraft rented from a boat rental business.

(2) Middle Youghiogheny River. The Middle Youghiogheny River is the section of the Youghiogheny River between the Ramcat launch area and the Middle Youghiogheny take-out area upstream of Bike Trail Bridge in Ohiopyle Borough. The following rules apply to persons using watercraft on the Middle Youghiogheny River:

(i) Launch and take-out. Launch of watercraft shall occur only at the Ramcat launch area, and take-out shall occur only at the Middle Youghiogheny take-out area upstream of Bike Trail Bridge in Ohiopyle Borough.

(ii) Watercraft requirements. Except as provided in subparagraph (iii), the following requirements apply to watercraft used on the Middle Youghiogheny River:

(A) At river levels below 3 feet, inflatable watercraft shall be at least 8 feet long and have an outside tube diameter of at least 14 inches. This requirement does not apply to inflatable canoes and inflatable kayaks.

(B) At river levels 3 feet and above, inflatable watercraft shall be at least 12 feet long and have an outside tube diameter of at least 16 inches. Inflatable canoes and inflatable kayaks are not permitted.

(iii) Exceptions to watercraft requirements.

(A) Guided and unguided State park-licensed concession watercraft are not subject to subparagraph (ii), but are subject to the terms of the license agreement.

(B) With permission of the Department, a person may use watercraft that does not meet the requirements in subparagraph (ii) if the Department deems it safe for use, taking into account durability, buoyancy and maneuverability. This permission will not be given for watercraft rented from a boat rental business, including a State park-licensed concession business.

(3) Waterfall running. Boating from Bike Trail Bridge to and including Ohiopyle Falls is permitted unless posted otherwise.

(d) Lehigh Gorge State Park. The following rules apply on the Lehigh River at Lehigh Gorge State Park. Flow rates are measured at the State park river gauges at the launch area designated by the Department at White Haven and the launch and take-out areas designated by the Department at Rockport and Glen Onoko.

(1) At flow rates from 250 cubic feet per second through 1,000 cubic feet per second, inflatable watercraft shall be at least 8 feet long and have an outside tube diameter of at least 13 inches. This requirement does not apply to inflatable canoes and inflatable kayaks.

(2) At flow rates above 1,000 cubic feet per second through 5,000 cubic feet per second, inflatable watercraft shall be at least 11 feet long and have an outside tube diameter of at least 15 inches. This requirement does not apply to inflatable canoes and inflatable kayaks.

(3) At flow rates above 5,000 cubic feet per second, inflatable watercraft shall be at least 12-1/2 feet long and have an outside tube diameter of at least 17 inches. This requirement does not apply to inflatable canoes and inflatable kayaks.

(4) Launch of watercraft shall occur only at launch areas designated by the Department and take-out shall occur only at take-out areas designated by the Department, except with written permission of the Department.

(5) Guided and unguided watercraft trips provided by commercial outfitters are not permitted between the Francis E. Walter Dam and the White Haven launch area.

(6) Guided and unguided watercraft trips provided by commercial outfitters are not permitted between the White Haven launch area and the Rockport launch and take-out area during the opening weekend of annual trout season, as established by the Fish and Boat Commission, and the following weekend.

(e) McConnells Mill State Park. Inflatable watercraft used on Slippery Rock Creek at McConnells Mill State Park shall be at least 8 feet long and have an outside tube diameter of at least 14 inches. This requirement does not apply to inflatable canoes and inflatable kayaks.