- Boat Smart: Know the Rules
Boat Safe: Wear Your Life Jacket
Boat Sober: Alcohol use is the #1 factor in recreational boating deaths!
It is just as dangerous to operate a boat under the influence of marijuana as it is alcohol. The penalties are also identical. Many lakes, reservoirs and rivers in Colorado are considered public property, so open display or use of marijuana is also illegal.
Safe Vessel Operation
Water sports are a great way to have fun in the sun, whether you take to the water in your power boat, sailboat, or canoe. In order to keep water-based activities carefree and risks at a minimum, it's important to keep basic safety practices in mind. The Colorado Boating Safety Program promotes safe vessel operation while enhancing boating experiences.
Before heading out on the water, be sure to:
Take a Boating Safety Course!
The Boat Safety Review Session is required for individuals who are 14 or 15 years old to lawfully operate a boat in Colorado, but it includes extremely valuable information regardless of age or experience level! Not only will the material help students stay smart and safe on the water, it can also save participants 10-15% on boat insurance!
The process is simple:
Register for a Boating Safely in Colorado course at least seven days in advance
Review the "Boating Safely in Colorado" manual, available for
The course costs $15, payable at time of registration
Students must be at least 14 years old
Attend a 2-3 hour review session near you
This is a self-study manual to be studied before the review session
Take the final exam
A parent or guardian must be present with students 14 or 15 years old
Bring a 1-by-1 inch front-facing photo for your operator card
Score a 70% to earn your operator card!
Colorado Parks and Wildlife is part of Operation Dry Water, a nationally coordinated outreach and awareness effort to reduce the number of accidents and deaths related to boating under the influence.
Alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; where the primary cause was known, it was listed as the leading factor in 21% of deaths according to U.S. Coast Guard Recreational Boating Statistics 2014.
It is just as dangerous to operate a boat under the influence of marijuana as it is alcohol. The penalties for doing so are also identical. Many lakes, reservoirs and rivers in Colorado are considered public property, so open display or use of marijuana is also illegal.
"If you see someone drinking and boating or boating dangerously, please tell us” says Kris Wahlers, Boating Safety Program Manager. “Everyone knows to call 911 and report a drunk driver on the road. The same applies to the water. Drinking is not part of the boating experience; it’s a serious public safety issue and the people at risk are you and your group.”
See the Search and Rescue FAQ for more information.