Boating in New Hampshire
New Hampshire is a boater’s paradise!
You’re never more than a short drive away from a boatable lake, pond or river in the Granite State. There are more than 400 public federal and state-owned launch sites where you can get your motorboat, kayak or canoe into the water—not to mention town-owned ramps that you can check out.
If you’re a paddler, you’ll find hundreds of great destinations in New Hampshire—some whitewater for the adrenaline-rush crowd, some glassy expanses for the stereotypical Sunday driver, and lots and lots in between. Bring your binoculars, because many of the most fantastic waterbodies are inside of state parks and NH Fish and Game-owned Wildlife Management Areas; depending on the season and time of day, you may find more than just a nice place to launch your people-powered craft. And, of course, don’t forget your fishing rod and tackle box!
Check WildNH.com for a listing of water access sites around the state, and stop by your nearest NH Visitor Center to pick up a copy of the NH Boating & Fishing Public Access Map!
Register Your Boat
- Which boats? All motorized vessels of any size must be registered, in addition to sailboats and sailboards 12 feet or longer. Unmotorized canoes, kayaks and small sailboats do not need to register.
- New boat: The boat owner must register in person at any NH Department of Motor Vehicles substation. Some marinas, sport shops and town halls also can provide boat registrations; call first. The owner will be asked to show proof of ownership (such as a bill of sale) and a photo ID.
- Renewal: Once a boat is registered, registrants will receive a renewal form in the mail in subsequent years; boat registrations may be renewed by mail or in person.
Any vessel that is registered in another state may operate on New Hampshire waters for 30 consecutive days or less without a NH boat registration. Operators must have the appropriate Safe Boating Certificate.
Ten Tips for Safe Boating
- Don’t Overload Carry only the specified limit for your craft and don’t sit on the gunwales or the transom.
- Wear Life Jackets or Vests State law requires one wearable life preserver for each person in a boat. Kids 12 and under must wear a life preserver.
- Know the Water Always carry a chart (map) of the waters you are boating on.
- In an Accident Your first obligation is to save lives and help the injured. Call NH Marine Patrol: (603) 293-2037.
- Water and Alcohol Don’t Mix Sixty percent of recent boating fatalities in NH are alcohol-related. Don’t drink and boat—the .08 law applies to boaters, too!
- Use Your Lights All boats operating after dark must display lights to be visible to other boaters.
- Use Caution When passing within 150 feet of another boat, swimmers, rafts, shore, docks, or mooring fields, you must be at headway speed.
- Don’t Use the Water as a Dump It is illegal to litter or discharge sewage into the water.
- Don’t Harass Wildlife All wildlife are protected on the state’s waters, subject to strict hunting and fishing regulations.
- Take a Boating Safety Course For info call Marine Patrol at (603) 267-7256.
Regulations in red are new this year.
Purple text indicates an important note.