Can You Rent Kayaks At Yellowstone Park? What To Know

If you are thinking of a trip to Yellowstone Park, you might be wondering can you rent kayaks at Yellowstone Park? Everything you need to know will be covered in this article so you can plan your trip effectively.

Can You Rent Kayaks At Yellowstone Park?

Sadly, you can’t rent kayaks at Yellowstone Park. Kayaks and canoe rentals are not offered at Yellowstone Park. You can bring your own kayak in, but you will need a permit to do this. However, the park offers stunning views and paddling options, so this is well worth doing.

Can I Rent A Kayak At Yellowstone National Park?

Unfortunately, Yellowstone park doesn’t offer any kayak rental facilities. You can rent other kinds of boats, such as outboards and rowboats, but they don’t offer kayaks or canoes. So if you’re looking to rent a kayak, you will not be able to do so at Yellowstone.

However, that said, Yellowstone Park has some amazingly beautiful lakes, and paddling around is one of the most beautiful ways to see the park and its wildlife – so let’s learn how you can make the most of Yellowstone’s beauty from the water.

How Can I Kayak At Yellowstone Park?

To kayak at Yellowstone Park, you will need to bring your own kayak or follow a guided tour company, usually providing you with a kayak and all the equipment you need to enjoy yourself on the water.

Let’s explore the two different options.

Bringing Your Own Kayak

You can take your own kayak to Yellowstone Park, provided you have a permit to do so. According to YellowstoneParkNet, you can get a permit from the Grant Village Visitor Center, the Lake Ranger Station, the Lewis Lake Ranger Station, or the Bridge Bay Marina.

Only rowboats and outboards can be rented at Bridge Bay. 

Park permits can be purchased for weekly or seasonal costs. Below you’ll find the costs related to the different types of permits:

  • Annual: $20.00
  • 7 Day Pass: $7.00 (for motorized vessels
  • Non-Motorized Vessels: $7.00 for seven days

You will be required to wear a Coast Guard approved PFD (personal floatation device).

Plus, your kayak will have to pass an inspection, which usually involves park officials checking your kayak for any signs of invasive species that may be transmitted to the park waters.

The best way to speed this inspection up by ensuring that you have cleaned and dried your boat thoroughly before your arrival in Yellowstone. You don’t want to be introducing any alien species by mistake!

You’ll be required to meet specific requirements in terms of your equipment. To be allowed on the lakes in Yellowstone Park, you must have the following:

  • A floatation device (this does not have to be worn but must be available on the kayak at all times).
  • A whistle or horn fitted to the kayak.
  • A light beacon of some sort, such as a lamp. A cellphone does not count.

The kayaking season is quite short, running from Memorial Day weekend until the beginning of November. So if you want to take advantage of the park’s extraordinary beauty from the shell of a kayak, it must be between these times.

Taking A Guided Tour

Guided kayaking tours have a lot going for them, especially if you are an inexperienced kayaker or want to learn a lot about the park. A guided tour will provide you with a kayak, life jacket, paddles, and even food.

A tour will also ensure that you have some kayaking training and someone with you to help you out if you have problems while out on the water. You will usually be paired with a small group, so you can enjoy good company as well as the knowledge of an expert who knows the park well and can tell you all about it.

Many of the geothermal features in the park aren’t accessible by other means than kayaking, and traveling with an expert will ensure that you don’t miss anything important but instead get to see all the best parts of the park.

You may also be more likely to see some of the park’s wildlife, such as grizzly bears, elk, and wolves, as the guides will know common animal hangouts and have a good idea of the best times to spot them.

If you’re not experienced, and you’d prefer to have an expert guide you on the tour. Your best option is to take a guided kayaking tour.

There are a few companies that offer Yellowstone kayak tours. For example, Geyser Kayak Tours offers day, overnight, and sunset paddle tours. You can check their website for availability and what items you should bring with you. 

Are There Certain Areas Where Kayaks Are Not Allowed?

You will be given up-to-date information when you get your permit. But it may help you to know where you usually are and are not allowed in the park. For example, certain waters are not accessible to the public for a number of reasons.

Non-motorized boats are usually allowed on any lake in the park except for the Beach Springs Lagoon, Twin Lakes, Sylvan Lake, and Eleanor Lake. These are out of bounds, and you should not kayak there. If you wish to stay in the park overnight, you will need a backcountry permit.

In general, you may not take your kayak out on the rivers in Yellowstone Park. The exception to this rule is part of the Lewis River, where non-motorized craft (including kayaks) are permitted. This section runs between Lewis Lake and Shoshone Lake.

You should also familiarize yourself with other park rules. Such as where swimming is and is not allowed, and what other water activity is allowed in certain places.

What Else Should I Know Before Kayaking At Yellowstone Park?

It’s essential to familiarize yourself with the safety aspects of kayaking when you go anywhere at all. If you are an inexperienced paddler, you should be careful about planning your routes and stick to the safe courses. Do not tackle routes before you are ready to, especially if the weather is bad.

You can ask for information when obtaining permits, but YellowstonePark suggests traveling down the Lewis River Channel to Shoshone Lake. 

This route is suitable for beginners and extremely popular, encompassing views seen by Lewis and Clark when they were mapping the land.

It is better not to cross the Lewis Lake’s open part, as sudden storms are common in this area. Instead, if you would like a challenge, try going to the Oxbow Bend; this is considered intermediate.

It is a five-mile trip, so make sure you allow enough time, particularly if you are a beginner at kayaking. Don’t underestimate how long it may take you to get somewhere, and always remember that you will need to have the energy to paddle (or walk) back!

A final thing to bear in mind is that Yellowstone Park has a great deal of wildlife, which must be treated with respect. Bears and wolves are the animals that you need to be particularly aware of, and it is advisable to carry bear spray at all times while in the park.

Treat wild animals with great care and do not take risks.

Final Word

Kayaking in Yellowstone Park is an unforgettable experience, and if you are a keen kayaker, you will probably have an incredible time. 

If you’re just getting into kayaking or wanting to try it for the first time, try a guided tour to ensure that you don’t get into difficulty in the water.

While many routes in Yellowstone Park are suitable for beginners, it is important to keep yourself and anyone else you are kayaking with safe; do not attempt routes that are beyond your skill level, and act responsibly at all times.