Utah Kayaking Laws (Rules and Regulations)


Utah Kayaking Laws - Rules and Regulations

Utah kayak laws are set and governed by the Utah Department of Natural Resources State Parks Division. Law enforcement officers and agents of the Utah Department of Natural Resources enforce Utah kayaking laws.

Utah is home to a number of waterways including the Colorado River, Lake Powell, and the Great Salt Lake. The state’s boating sector has been growing in popularity, making it a great option for kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, rafting and other water vessel activities.

Here’s a summary of what you need to know about Utah kayaking laws.

Legal Disclaimer: This article was written for informational purposes only. I am not an attorney and am not giving legal advice. If you have specific questions about your state’s laws, you should consult a local attorney.

Utah Kayak Laws Summary

  • Utah Kayaking Laws – Utah law considers kayaks and canoes to be boats with no motor or sails.
  • Utah Kayak Registration – Kayaks, canoes, and all other vessels not propelled by motor or sail are exempt from registration.
  • Motorized Kayak Registration – All motorboats must be registered and display current registration decals. This includes a trolling motor on a canoe or kayak.
  • Kayak Operator Licensing in Utah – No kayaks or boats require a license to operate in Utah. Non-residents of Utah are required to take the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Aquatic Invasive Species Education Course.
  • Motorized Kayaking Age – Persons under 16 years of age may operate a motor or sailboat when accompanied on board and under the direct supervision of a responsible person who is at least 18 years of age.
  • Kayaking BUI Law – Utah has a Boating Under the Influence (BUI) law that applies to all motorized vessels. A person is operating illegally when their blood alcohol content is .08% or above.
  • Kayaking Life Jacket Law – All canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards must have on board one USCG approved wearable PFD for each person on board. (see below for kayak and canoe specifics)
  • Kayak Lights Law – Kayaks must carry a white lantern, light, or flashlight.
  • Kayaking Sounding Devices – A sounding device is strongly recommended but not required unless the kayak is over 16 feet in length.
  • Kayaking VDS Law – VDS are not required when operating on Utah waters.

That only summarizes Utah boating laws applied to kayaking and canoeing in Utah. The details are more in-depth and specific. Read on to find out how to paddle legally in Utah.

Affiliate Notification: Paddle Camp is reader-supported. Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means we will earn a commission on the products or services you purchase using the links.

Utah Kayak Registration

Non-Motorized

Do you have to register a kayak in Utah? No. Canoes, kayaks, and other vessels not propelled by motor or sail are exempt from registration.Utah Department of Natural Resources Boating Registration PageOpens in a new tab.

Motorized

Do you have to register a kayak with a trolling motor in Utah? Yes. All vessels powered by a motor must be registered and display valid decals. Registrations are good for one year.

Titling

Utah Vessel Titling: All vessels powered by a motor or sail operated in Utah must be titled if they are from the year 1985 or newer. Vessels can be registered and titled at the Utah Division of Motor Vehicles.

Registration Resources

Related Article: Paddle Board Registration

Utah Kayaking Operator Education Laws

Non-Motorized

Do you need a license to kayak in Utah? No. Boater Education is not required for any vessel in Utah besides Personal Watercraft (PWC). 

Motorized

Do you need a license to operate a motorized kayak in Utah? No. Boater Education is not required for any vessel in Utah besides Personal Watercraft (PWC)

Youth

Persons under 16 years of age may operate a motor or sailboat when accompanied on board and under the direct supervision of a responsible person who is at least 18 years of age.

Utah Kayaking OUI Laws

Can you get a DUI on a kayak in Utah? Yes and no. Utah’s BUI law prohibits anyone from operating any motor vessel under the influence of alcohol or drugs. However, open containers of alcohol are allowed on the vessel. You can get the equivalent of a DUI, a BUI (Boating Under the Influence) in Utah with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.08%, or if under the influence of controlled drugs or other substances when operating any motorized vessel. Non-motorized kayaks and canoes are exempt.

Related Article: Can You Get a DUI on a Kayak?

Utah Kayak Life Jacket Laws

Do you need a life jacket to kayak in Utah? Yes. All canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards must have on board one USCG approved wearable PFD for each person on board, and all persons 12 years of age and under must wear a properly sized coast guard approved life jacket whenever the boat is in operation.

Utah PFD Details:

  • All PFDs should be readily accessible, in serviceable condition, and of the appropriate size for the intended user.
  • Inflatable life jackets may not be used by any person under the age of 16

PFD Age Laws

What age do you have to wear a life jacket in Utah? All persons 12 years of age and under must wear a properly sized coast guard approved life jacket whenever the boat is in operation. 

Type IV Throwable PFD

Do I need a Type IV “throwable” on my kayak in Utah? Possibly. All vessels 16 – 39 feet in length must carry at least one throwable PFD.

Related Article: Kayak Life Jacket Laws by State (50 State List)

Utah Kayaking Lights Laws

What lights do I need on my kayak at night? All paddlecraft must have at least one bright light, lantern, or flashlight of white color which can be displayed in sufficient time to prevent a collision.

While anchored or adrift, the white light must be on.

Powered vessels require USCG-approved red and green side lights as well as a white all-around light when not at dock. The white light must be visible at a distance of at least two miles, and the colored lights must be visible at a distance of at least one mile.

Utah Kayaking Sounding Devices Laws

Do I need a whistle on a kayak in Utah? No, unless the kayak is over 16 feet long, in which case a whistle or horn capable of producing a four to six second blast of sound is required. Whistles are strongly recommended even for vessels less than 16 feet in length.

The best “sounding” device for kayakers and canoeists is a whistle attached to your PFD in a place that’s quick and easy to deploy.

VDS – Visual Distress Signaling Devices

Visual distress signals are not required when operating on Utah waters unless they are federally controlled. If they are federally controlled, Visual Distress Signals (VDS) that are USCG-approved for nighttime use are required when operating between sunset and sunrise. Visual distress signals must be readily accessible, in working condition, and unexpired. 

Night Signals

When operating in federally controlled waters, night signals are required between sunset and sunrise. 

Day Signals

Visual Distress Signals are not required for kayaks during the day.

Utah Kayaking Fire Extinguisher Laws

Do I need a fire extinguisher on my motorized kayak in Utah? No. Even if you have a trolling motor on your kayak, if the fuel tank isn’t permanently installed and is of open construction, you aren’t required to have a fire extinguisher.

Regardless of the law, we recommend carrying a small class B-I fire extinguisher if you have a trolling motor on your kayak or canoe. The worst thing in the world is a fire on a boat with no way to put it out, especially if you’re far from shore.

Additional Utah Kayaking Laws Resources

Boating Law Enforcement

Law enforcement officers and agents of the Utah Department of Natural Resources enforce Utah’s boat and water safety laws.

As always, USCG officers enforce federally controlled waters in Utah.

Steve W

I'm Steve, the research and technology workhorse behind Paddle Camp. I do tons of research on all our family's paddling gear before I buy or recommend anything. I grew up canoeing with my dad and brother. A few years ago I bought paddle boards for my daughters, myself, and my wife. Ever since then, we plan most of our vacations around kayaking, canoeing, or paddle boarding.

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