Nevada Boating Regulations Summary

For anglers using boats in Nevada, it's crucial to understand and adhere to the state's boating laws and regulations to ensure safety on the water. Here's a summary of key points:

  • Safety Equipment Requirement: All boats in Nevada must carry safety equipment suitable for the type and size of the vessel. This equipment helps ensure the safety of passengers and crew in case of emergencies.

  • Practice Safe Boating: Every boater should prioritize safe boating practices, including understanding and following the rules of the road on the water. Safe boating not only protects individuals but also promotes responsible use of water resources.

  • Learn More: To gain a comprehensive understanding of boating regulations in Nevada, anglers can contact the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) and request a copy of the Nevada Boater’s Handbook. Additionally, they can visit Nevada’s safe boating website at for valuable resources and information.

Reduced Speed Areas in Nevada Waters

To ensure safety and minimize disturbances, certain waters in Nevada have designated reduced speed areas where vessels must operate at speeds that leave a flat wake. Here's a list of these areas:

Waters Requiring Reduced Speed:

  1. Bassett Lake in White Pine County
  2. Cave Lake in White Pine County
  3. Knott Creek Reservoir in Humboldt County
  4. Jakes Creek Reservoir in Elko County
  5. Onion Valley Reservoir in Humboldt County
  6. Wayne E. Kirch Wildlife Management Area in Nye County
  7. Laughlin Lagoon in Clark County
  8. Likes Lake in Churchill County
  9. Pitt-Taylor Arm of Rye Patch Reservoir in Pershing County
  10. Illipah Reservoir in White Pine County
  11. Mason Valley Wildlife Management Area in Lyon County
  12. Upper Wall Canyon Reservoir in Washoe County
  13. Echo Canyon Reservoir in Lincoln County
  14. Silver Creek Reservoir in White Pine County
  15. Jiggs Reservoir in Elko County

Designated Zones Requiring Reduced Speed:

  1. Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Clark County
  2. South Fork Reservoir in Elko County
  3. Wildhorse Reservoir in Elko County
  4. Lake Tahoe and designated areas in Douglas County
  5. Washoe Lake State Park Boat Ramps in Washoe County
  6. Walker Lake State Recreation Area and Sportsmen’s Beach in Mineral County
  7. Lahontan Reservoir and designated areas in Churchill County
  8. Rye Patch Reservoir and designated areas in Pershing County
  9. Topaz Lake boat ramps in Douglas County
  10. Colorado River, adjacent to specific locations in Laughlin and Clark County
  11. Big Bend of the Colorado River State Recreation Area in Clark County

In these areas, vessels must not exceed a speed of 5 nautical miles per hour to maintain a flat wake. Compliance with these regulations ensures safety and protects the environment for all users of Nevada's waters. (Refer to NAC 488.455)

Prohibited Boating Areas in Nevada

Certain areas in Nevada's water bodies are designated as prohibited for vessels, as indicated by signs or buoys. Here are the areas where boating is prohibited:

Lake Mead National Recreation Area:

  • Designated areas within the Lake Mead National Recreation Area are off-limits to vessels.

Colorado River:

  • Vessels are prohibited below Davis Dam on the Colorado River.
  • The swimming area of Harrah’s Casino in Laughlin is also off-limits to vessels.

Lake Tahoe:

  • Boating is prohibited at various locations on Lake Tahoe, including:
    • Main beaches at Sand Harbor and Divers’ Cove within Lake Tahoe State Park
    • Swimming areas at Incline Village General Improvement District and Burnt Cedar Beach
    • Swimming area at Galilee at the Episcopal Camp and Conference Center
    • Swimming area at Lakeridge General Improvement District
    • Swimming area at Glenbrook Homeowner’s Association
    • Swimming area at Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe
    • Swimming area at Zephyr Cove Marina
    • Swimming area at Crystal Shores West
    • Swimming and beach area adjacent to Nevada Beach as described in 33CFR 162.215.

Other Designated Areas:

  • Prohibited boating areas also include:
    • Dam and swim beach at Rye Patch Reservoir State Recreation Area
    • Lahontan Reservoir Dam
    • South Fork Reservoir Dam
    • Wildhorse Reservoir Dam
    • Eagle Valley Dam at Spring Valley State Park
    • Chimney Reservoir Dam in Humboldt County
    • County swim beach at Topaz Lake
    • Swimming and diving areas at Sparks Marina Park.

In these designated areas, vessels are not permitted to ensure safety and preserve the recreational environment. (Refer to NAC 488.465)

Boating Restrictions in Wildlife Management Areas

Boating regulations vary within Nevada's Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs). Here are the restrictions imposed on vessel usage in certain WMAs:

Overton Wildlife Management Area (Clark County)

  • Vessels are prohibited on all ponds within the Overton WMA.
  • However, vessels are permitted on the portion of the area covered by Lake Mead, except during Overton Hunt Days, when only authorized waterfowl hunters may use vessels.

Humboldt Wildlife Management Area (Churchill and Pershing Counties)

  • All vessels are prohibited on ponds in the Humboldt and Toulon Sink areas five days before the opening day of the waterfowl season.
  • Airboats are prohibited on the Humboldt Sink until one hour after the legal shooting time on the opening day of the waterfowl season.
  • Additionally, airboats are prohibited on the Toulon portion of the area during the waterfowl season.

Mason Valley Wildlife Management Area (Lyon County)

  • From February 15 to August 15 of each year, all vessels are prohibited in the Mason Valley WMA, except in specific areas:
    • Hinkson Slough
    • Bass Pond
    • Crappie Pond
    • Beaver Slough
    • The Walker River
    • North Pond

Fort Churchill Cooling Pond Cooperative Wildlife Management Area

  • All vessels and floating devices are prohibited on the pond, except those used by NV Energy employees for official duties.

Wayne E. Kirch Wildlife Management Area

  • Only vessels without motors may be used on Dacey Reservoir from February 15 to August 15 of each year.

These restrictions do not apply to vessels owned, operated, and used for official purposes by the Department of Wildlife. For the purposes of these regulations, a vessel is considered in use if it is on the state's waters and not grounded on the shore. (Refer to NAC 488.467)

Areas Limited to Boats without Motors and Boats with Electric Motors

Certain waters in Nevada have restrictions on the types of vessels allowed, specifically limiting them to boats without motors or allowing boats with electric motors. Here are the designated areas:

Waters Limited to Vessels without Motors:

  • Angel Lake in Elko County
  • Blue Lakes in Humboldt County
  • Marlette Lake in Washoe County
  • Truckee River in Storey and Washoe Counties, from the California-Nevada state line to the point where the river enters the Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation

Waters Limited to Vessels without Motors and Electric Motor-Powered Vessels:

  • Groves Lake in Lander County
  • Sparks Marina Park in Washoe County
  • The Lagoon South of Laughlin within section 33, T. 32 S., R66 E., M.D.B. & M., as marked with signs or buoys, or both in Clark County.
  • Spooner Lake in Douglas County

These regulations ensure the preservation of these water bodies while providing opportunities for non-motorized and electric motor-powered boating activities. (Refer to NAC 488.470)

Federal Boating Regulations

Certain areas in Nevada are subject to Federal Regulations in addition to the general provisions of the Nevada Boat Act. These regulations encompass rules for registration, equipment, and operation. It's essential to contact refuge managers for detailed descriptions of restricted zones and motor and speed regulations before planning your visit, as regulations are subject to change.

Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge

  • Phone: (775) 725-3417
  • Watercraft may only be used to access daily hunting locations. Shooting from moving watercraft is prohibited, except for recovering wounded birds.
  • Waterfowl hunting is allowed only from anchored or immobilized watercraft in open water or natural growth vegetation.
  • Non-motorized boats or watercraft with electric motors are permitted on Upper Lake from February 1 through September 30.
  • The refuge is closed to all watercraft from October 1 to February 1, except for waterfowl hunt purposes in designated zones.
  • Upper Lake is completely closed to boating from October 1 to February 1.
  • Trailer launching of watercraft is prohibited, and North Marsh is closed to all activity, including boats and other watercraft.

Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge

  • Phone: (775) 779-2237
  • January 1 - June 14: Closed to all boating except float tubes.
  • June 15 - July 31: Only motorless watercraft and boats with battery-powered electric motors are permitted in South Marsh. Gas motors must be removed from all boats.
  • August 1 - December 31: Motorless watercraft and boats propelled with motors of 10 hp or less are permitted in the South Marsh.
  • Boats may be launched on trailers only at specified boat landings, and canoes or cartop boats may be launched at designated areas.
  • Boats may be stored at specific locations from June 1 through December 31, with restrictions on trailer storage.

Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge

  • Phone: (775) 941-0199
  • Anglers may bank fish, fish by wading, or use nonmotorized boats, boats with electric motors, float tubes, and similar flotation devices only at Big Springs Reservoir, Dufurrena Ponds, and Catnip Reservoir.

Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge

  • Phone: (775) 423-5128
  • Special boating regulations are in effect at Stillwater NWR. Contact the refuge manager before operating a boat in this area. Fishing is not allowed.

For the most up-to-date regulations, refer to each individual wildlife refuge's website.

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The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.