AW Scores on Pennsylvania

Posted: 09/26/2002
by Jason Robertson

AW Hits a Homerun on Pennsylvania's Boating Regulations!

Earlier this week we learned that Pennsylvania accepted all of American Whitewater's recommended changes to the state's regulations. These changes will improve river access, visitor experiences and safety, and river management throughout the State, including the Lower Yough, Lehigh, and Slippery Rock.


  • HIGH WATER CANOEING AND KAYAKING: Canoeing and kayaking will be permitted on waterways throughout the state parks during times of high water unless posted otherwise. Previously these activities were banned.
  • OHIOPYLE FALLS BOATING UNLESS POSTED OTHERWISE: Boating is permitted unless posted otherwise. This gives the Superintendent discretion as to whether the falls will be open or closed. That authority was muddy under the prior regulations. The Department will monitor AW's Falls Race and make a decision as to whether to expand access.
  • RUNNING OTHER WATERFALLS: Restrictions on running waterfalls in Ohiopyle Falls State Park were removed. This fixed the confusion over what the definition of a waterfall and how that differed from a rapid. Removal of this restriction also allows boaters to run the tributaries on the Lower Yough.
  • FLEXIBLE INFLATABLE WATERCRAFT DESIGNS: Provisions are redesigned to be flexible for changes in new manufacturing technologies. The new rule simply requires inflatables to be multichambered, of tough durable construction intended for whitewater use, and of tough, commercial grade, laminated material.


  • LIFEJACKETS AND PFD REQUIREMENTS: Requires the use of a Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device (PFD), Type I, III, or V.
  • KAYAKS AND CANOES MUST FLOAT: Watercraft must have sufficient flotation to float when completely full of water. This may not mean you need an airbag in your boat, for instance a foam bulkhead or wall may be sufficient to float your boat.
  • RENTED WATERCRAFT MAY NOT BE USED OVER 4 FEET: Boat rentals will not be permitted on the Lower Yough above 4 feet. This provision is intended to "screen out inexperienced boaters. In the experience of the Department, persons who rent watercraft tend to be less experienced than persons who use their own watercraft."
  • QUOTAS ARE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF INDIVIDUAL PARKS: Allocation quotas between commercial and private boaters are no longer codified in law; instead they are left up to the discretion of the Superintendent and the Park's planners. These quotas are designed to protect public access and safe management of the river.

Art by Karl Gesslein

Jason D. Robertson
635 Joseph Cir
Golden, CO 80403-2349