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All public watercrafts require a Town Lake boat permit prior to the use of the lake.
Boat permits are sold at:
Parks & Recreation Main Office, 3500 S. Rural Road
Monday-Friday 8am to 5pm
Pyle Adult Recreation Center, 655 E Southern Avenue
Monday-Thursday 8am to 8pm, Fridays 8am-4pm & Saturdays 9am to 4pm
For more information use "A Guide to Tempe Town Lake" or call (480) 350-8625.
Watercraft boating regulations that apply to Tempe Town Lake are the Arizona Revised Statutes (Title 5), the Arizona Game and Fish Department Commission Regulations, the City of Tempe Code and Rio Salado administrative operating policies.
Watercrafts Permitted on Town Lake
-Wind-driven watercraft with a maximum mast height of 30 feet from the water surface level
-Watercraft equipped with a single electric motor
-Remote control boats; click "here" for remote control regulations.
-Inflatable boats have to be 6 feet in length or larger and have more than one air chamber.
-Inflatable boats have to be physically viewed by staff before a permit can be issued.
- All vessels except rowing shells must have at least one wearable Type I, II, III or V life jacket (PFD) that is U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) approved and of the proper size for each person on board.
- All children 12 years of age and younger must wear a USCG approved Type I, II, III life jacket (PFD) anytime while underway on any vessel.
Watercrafts Prohibited on Town Lake
-Watercraft equipped with internal combustion boat motors.
-Inflatable boats less than six feet in length. Inflatable boats not constructed of durable reinforced
-Inflatable boats that do not have at least two separate buoyancy chambers.
-Inner tubes, inflatable mattresses, rafts, tube boats and float tubes.
Watercraft Launch Site
All public watercraft must be launched at a designated boat launch facility.
all boats should follow a counter-clockwise pattern as they operate on the lake. Self-propelled boats (i.e. kayaks, canoes, outrigger canoes, dragon boats, rowing shells) should favor the perimeter of the lake. Boats operating under sail or electric should favor the center of the lake.
A wakeless speed is the maximum boat speed.
All boats operating after dark and before sunrise are required to have lights while boating on Town Lake.
Lights are required to be physically attached on the boats and not on the rowers/paddlers/sailors.
Lights need to be visible from all sides (360 degrees).
A white light must be places on the stern (back) of the boat so that it can be reached by at least one
person in the boat and waved in case of an emergency.
A red light or a red/green light (this is preferred) must be placed on the bow (front) of the boat.
Public boating navigational rules specific to the Tempe Town Lake include, but are not limited to, the following:
-Lake traffic shall be counter clockwise. Watercraft leaving the shoreline shall yield right-of-way to watercraft approaching the shoreline.
-Public watercraft should give way to commercial watercraft, public safety watercraft and emergency watercraft.
-Unless being overtaken, powered watercraft (electric motor) shall give way to manually powered watercraft and sailboats.
-Unless being overtaken, sailboats shall give way to manually powered watercraft. All watercraft operators shall maintain a proper lookout and proceed at a safe speed when underway.
-Watercraft underway shall stay at least 30 feet from drifting or anchored boats. If approaching or coming alongside another boat, the operator shall use caution and approach at a safe, controlled speed.
Arizona Boating Laws and Regulations
Emergency Warning System
The emergency warning system alerts boats of lightning, wind, and evacuation. Lights and sirens have been mounted on tall poles at three locations around the Tempe Town Lake. Go to the Town Lake weather page for the latest weather conditions.
WHITE light will start flashing anytime the wind observed at that location reaches 15 miles per hour. The frequency of the light flashes will increase as the velocity of the wind increases.
RED light flashing and SIREN means that you must evacuate the Tempe Town Lake and secure your boat as quickly as possible.
Tempe Town Lake Bridge Clearances
All dimensions are approximate and measured from full water elevation level to the underside of the bridge.
Railroad & Light Rail Bridges
Mill Avenue Bridge (east)
Rural Road Bridge
Mill Avenue Bridge (west)
Red Mountain Freeway Bridge
* Measured at the high point of the arches
Duties of operator if accident occurs
If you are involved in a water accident notify the Tempe Police Department. In an emergency dial 911; if there is an non-emergency dial 480-350-8311. A police officer or Park Ranger will report to the scene and take a report. Leaving the scene of an accident where there is damage is considered a misdemeanor Hit & Run accident. Leaving the scene of an accident where there is injury is a felony Hit & Run accident. An accident is defined as boats with a fixed object, boat vs. boat, damage involving City owned property (which is anything around the lake) and boat vs. person.
Swimming or voluntarily entering water at Town Lake is prohibited except during special sporting events that are organized through the Parks and Recreation Department.
Water sport activities and special events
A Special Event Permit is required for any individual or group wishing to conduct a water sport activity or special event on the Tempe Town Lake. Water Sport Activity and Special Events application forms are available at the Special Events & Boating Office, 132 E. 6th St., Tempe or call (480) 350-8625.