Boating at Lake Powell?

See what's changed and how to protect your boat

If you're a Utah resident and you registered your boat prior to July 1, 2023, you do not have to pay the Aquatic Invasive Species fee or display a decal. Residents and non-residents must complete the Mussel-Aware Boater Course.

Quagga mussels are spreading in Lake Powell. And with the detrimental impact they have on fisheries, beaches, boats and water lines, we want to prevent them from infesting any other waterbodies.

If you plan to boat at Lake Powell, be prepared for long inspection and decontamination lines, particularly on weekends when wait times may exceed an hour or more. Our technicians are routinely finding mussels attached to boats, their anchors and in sea strainers. We need to be thorough in detecting and removing quagga mussels. Thank you for your patience.

Frequently asked questions:

  • What are the State of Utah’s laws regarding quagga mussels and boating at Lake Powell?

    • It is illegal to possess or move a quagga mussel in the state.
    • It is illegal to transport water out of Lake Powell.
    • Anyone with boats, kayaks, canoes, paddleboards or any other floating conveyance is required to stop at inspection stations when they are open and operating. This includes the inspection areas near the ramps at Lake Powell, and also any inspection stations located along Utah’s highways.
    • Upon receiving an inspection at Lake Powell, each watercraft receives a plastic seal and the boat owner is given a receipt of inspection/decontamination. It is illegal to remove a seal from a boat prior to the boat meeting the required dry time (unless necessary for maintenance). We ask that boaters leave the seals on their boats and present their inspection/decontamination receipt to DWR staff at your next destination.
  • What are we doing at Lake Powell?

    Utah Division of Wildlife Resources technicians work on the ramps most daylight hours to assist boaters in complying with state law, and to ensure that invasive mussels are not transported out of the reservoir.

    Technicians help boaters drain water from their vessels and inspect for attached mussels. After a successful inspection, technicians apply orange wire seals to the boat and trailer and they give the boat owner a receipt that indicates that the boat has been fully inspected.

    Boaters who present an inspection receipt at the next waterbody they visit will expedite their entrance.

  • What do I need to do upon entering Lake Powell?

    Be sure your boat is clean, drained and dry.

    The DWR is only conducting exit inspections at Lake Powell. Although Lake Powell is already infested with quagga mussels, it is still important to keep the water free from other aquatic invasive species.

    The National Park Service provides information for each boater regarding Lake Powell laws and regulations upon entering the park, and before launching.

    If your boat is registered outside the state of Utah, please make sure you complete the online education course and pay the associated fee before using your boat on the Utah side of Lake Powell. Both are required by law.

  • What do I need to do upon leaving Lake Powell?

    • Make sure your watercraft is clean of mud, plants and animals.
    • While on the launch ramp, remove all drain plugs and sea strainers, if applicable, and leave them out. Pump all water out of ballast tanks and drain water from the engine before proceeding up the ramp.
    • Stop for watercraft inspection at the inspection station if it is open. A technician will assist you and apply a seal to your boat/trailer indicating that the boat has received an official inspection. They will also give you an inspection receipt.
    • On-site professional hot water decontamination may be available upon request, depending on staffing and the amount of boat traffic the station is experiencing.
    • If the inspection station is not open, it is your legal responsibility to clean and drain your boat before leaving Lake Powell, and to transport your boat with all drain plugs removed, including the sea strainer. Draining of ballast tanks can best be accomplished by first activating the ballast pumps on an incline, and then activating them again later on flat ground. Likewise, draining of engines should be performed on both an incline and flat ground.
  • What do I need to do before launching in another waterbody?

    You have two options:

    • Option 1: Wait a required dry time and self-certify at your next destination that your boat has met the dry time.
      • If your boat has ballast tanks, an inboard motor, or other raw water systems (A/C, shower), the required dry time is always 30 days.
      • If your boat does not have any of the above systems, the dry times are:
        • Summer: 7 days in June–August
        • Fall: 18 days in September–November
        • Winter: 30 days in December–February
        • Spring: 18 days in March–May
    • Option 2: Have your boat professionally decontaminated. Find a decontamination station and please call ahead to make an appointment.
  • Can I have my boat decontaminated at Lake Powell?

    Due to the large number of boats at Lake Powell, it is impossible for the DWR to offer decontaminations to every exiting watercraft. To expedite this process as much as possible, our efforts focus on boats that will likely be launched in Utah before meeting the required dry time for the season. If you plan to launch your boat before meeting the dry time, please let our technicians on the ramp know and we will do our best to provide a decontamination on-site.

  • Does it cost anything to have my boat decontaminated?

    The DWR provides free decontaminations at DWR-run stations at Lake Powell. The DWR will not reimburse or otherwise cover the cost of professional decontamination by private businesses.

    Due to the time and personnel required to thoroughly decontaminate slipped/moored boats that typically experience mussel encrustation at Lake Powell, owners of these boats will be directed to and have to pay a private business or other qualified entity for a decontamination.

  • Why are quagga mussels an issue?

    • They impact fisheries by removing large amounts of beneficial plankton from the water, making this important food source unavailable to other aquatic organisms. This impacts the entire food chain all they way up to top fish predator, like bass.
    • They pollute shorelines and ruin beaches by covering them with their sharp shells. The shells eventually decompose, releasing a foul odor.
    • They damage boats and equipment by using their byssal threads to attach to these areas. Quagga mussels are famous for clogging engine intakes on boat motors, causing a great deal of damage, and sometimes even ruining motors.
    • They clog water delivery pipes, resulting in millions of dollars in extra maintenance costs that eventually are passed on to taxpayers.
  • What is the fine for transporting a boat that has mussels attached?

    Knowingly transporting a watercraft with mussels attached could result in a Class A Misdemeanor charge. That charge may include fines up to several thousand dollars in addition to restitution for the decontamination of the watercraft. You could also face seizure and quarantine of your boat.

  • How do I prove I’ve completed the decontamination certification course?

    Upon course completion and payment, boat owners should print out the completion certificate and place it on their vehicle dash. You may also save the certificate to your mobile device, or print the certificate and keep it on your boat to show proof of course completion before launching at a Utah waterbody. By printing out the certificate for your vehicle dash, putting one in your boat and saving it to your phone, you will expedite your entrance and exit to the state.

    Boaters with watercraft larger than wakeboard boats or watercraft with attached mussels, please see “Does it cost anything to have my boat decontaminated?” (above) for more information.

  • What if I don’t want to wait to have my boat decontaminated at Lake Powell?

    If you plan to launch again before meeting the required dry time, the best option is to have your boat decontaminated at Lake Powell. If this is not possible, contact another decontamination station and make an appointment for your boat immediately.