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Ohiopyle State Park (PA) Announces Falls Access For 2011

Posted: 03/24/2011
By: Mark Singleton

American Whitewater received the following press release announcing access to Ohiopyle Falls for 2011.


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March 24, 2011


OHIOPYLE – The Bureau of State Parks in cooperation with American Whitewater assessed the pilot program granting private boater access to the falls during a three week period from August 22, 2010, through September 12, 2010. Six hundred ninety nine (699) boaters took advantage of this access. During this time, there were no visitor accidents or injuries associated with running the falls.  James Juran, Park Manager, stated, “I believe the pilot program was a success and should be extended during the 2011 summer season when the Lower Youghiogheny Launch is staffed seven days a week.”

Beginning Saturday May 21, 2011, and closing Sunday September 11, 2011’ the falls will be open for runs between 8:30am and 2:30pm, with the last permits being sold at 2:15pm.  “Just like in 2010, boaters wishing to run the falls this season must adhere to the Private Boater Falls Access Guidelines and sign a waiver at the Lower Youghiogheny Launch booth,” Juran said. “The Ohiopyle Falls and the related rapids upstream and downstream are considered to be Class III-IV rapids and it is up to each individual to judge whether they have the skills to competently run these rapids.”

The park has received positive feedback from the boating community and from park visitors watching from the falls observation decks in anticipation, as the boaters negotiate the waterfall.

For more information about this pilot program, contact the Ohiopyle State Park office at (724) 329-8591 or visit

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Private Boater Falls Access Guidelines

1.     Prior to launching for each falls run, all boaters must register at the Lower Youghiogheny Launch Booth on SR 381.  A launch permit, governed by the private boater quota reservation system, is required during applicable periods.  

2.     Water Level must be 1.8 feet or below on the USGS Gage at the Lower Youghiogheny Launch in Ohiopyle.

3.     Using the Lower Youghiogheny Launch to take-out is prohibited.  The falls becomes the first rapid in the loop and boaters shall continue down river and take-out either at the Loop Take-Out on Ferncliff or Bruner Run Take-Out.

4.     The Falls will be open for runs from Saturday May 21, 2011 through Sunday September 11, 2011 between 8:30 am and 2:30 pm, with the last permit being sold at 2:15pm: No permits will be sold after 2:15pm. The launch window will run from third Saturday in May to second Sunday in September (corresponds to 7-days a week manned Lower Yough Launch Area Operations).  

5.     Access (put-in) will be from the river right shore only (Ferncliff side). Boaters access the river right put in via Ferncliff trail. The put in is mark with a sign and is located downstream of the buoy line anchor points.  Access will be prohibited from the Falls Day-Use Area (river left) except during Falls Running Events governed by Special Activities Agreements. 

6.     Boaters are prohibited from running Ohiopyle Falls alone (solo boater/party of one).  Minimum group size is three.  2nd or 3rd boaters do not have to run the falls and is/are included for the minimum group size for providing safety from shore (above or below) or boat (below) the falls.   Shore safeties shall wear a PFD, helmet and have a throw bag to effectively execute a rescue.

7.     Only single and double occupancy kayaks and canoes designed and fully outfitted for whitewater use are permissible.  Unguided Liveries/Rental Craft are prohibited. Rafts are prohibited. 

8.     Boaters may scout the falls from beyond the warning signs during open hours but must wear PFD and helmet at all times.


Note to boaters from American Whitewater:  Staff and volunteers worked very hard with Ohiopyle State Park and the PA Bureau of State Parks last year to negotiate a reasonable access solution to this longstanding issue. Make sure you mark your calendars for this year's Ohiopyle Over the Falls Festival on August 20, 2011. More information can be found at and this site as it becomes available. 

American Whitewater

Mark Singleton

PO Box 1540

Cullowhee, NC 28723

Phone: 828-586-1930
Fax: 828-586-2840
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