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Boating Permits & Regulations

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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 the following locations:

Recreation Administration Office
Tempe Public Library 
3500 S. Rural Rd., Suite 201 Tempe AZ 85282 
Monday-Friday 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. 

Pyle Adult Recreation Center 
655 E. Southern Ave., Tempe AZ 85282 
(480) 350-5211 
Monday-Thursday 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. 
Friday 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. 
Saturday 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. 

Online boating permits are now available. Follow these steps then enjoy the lake on your kayak, stand-up paddleboard, sailboat or canoe.  

  1. Visit the city’s Activenet registration membership portal.
  2. Choose your pass type - daily pass ($10) or annual pass ($25 for residents, $50 for non-residents)
  3. You will be prompted to sign in or create an account if you don’t already have one.,
  4. Provide your boat information. Up to four boats per account are allowed.
  5. Your electronic receipt will serve as your temporary permit. Physical permits will be mailed out within 5-7 days.

Mobile users will need to choose the “Full Site” or “Desktop Mode” on their phones for access.


Permit and Boat Storage Fees For boat storage information for Tempe Town Lake, call (480) 350-8034.

Tempe Town Lake Boat Permit Application Bring a completed application for each boat.

For more information check out 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 
    -Manually-propelled watercraft 
    -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. 
    -Windsurfing boards. 

Watercraft Launch Site 
All public watercraft must be launched at a designated boat launch facility.

Traffic Pattern 
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.

Watercraft Speed
A wakeless speed is the maximum boat speed.

Nighttime Navigation
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.

Navigational Rules
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 
North End     Middle     South End 
13 feet         13 feet    13 feet 

Mill Avenue Bridge (east) 
North End     Middle     South End 
21 feet*     21.5 feet*     22 feet * 
14 feet**   14.5 feet**   16 feet **

 Mill Avenue Bridge (west) 
North End     Middle     South End 
21 feet*       21 feet*     21 feet * 
2 feet**       2 feet**     2 feet **

Rural Road Bridge 
North End     Middle     South End 
22 feet         23 feet    18 feet

Red Mountain Freeway Bridge 
East End     Middle     West End 
24.5 feet     24 feet     23 feet

* Measured at the high point of the arches 
** Measured at the low 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 Prohibited
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.


Kiwanis Park Lake

All public watercraft require a boat permit prior to use on Kiwanis Park Lake.

Permits are available at the following locations:

Recreation Administration Office
Tempe Public Library
3500 S. Rural Rd., Suite 203, Tempe, AZ 85282
Monday - Friday 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Purchase a permit by phone: (480) 350-5200

Kiwanis Park Lake Boat Permit Fees
Annual - Resident - $5 (calendar year)
Annual - Non Resident - $10 (calendar year)

Kiwanis Park Lake Boat Permit Application Please bring a completed application for each boat.

Kiwanis Boating Regulations

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