Rules & Regulations

North Carolina Boating Rules:

  • All recreational vessels must have one Type I, II or III PFD of a suitable size for each person aboard. In addition, recreational vessels 16 feet and over must also have one throwable Type IV PFD.
  • Rowboats, canoes, and rafts moved only by oars, paddles, or the current do not need registration in North Carolina. Any vessel with a motor, including trolling motor must be registered.
  • No person shall operate any motorboat or vessel while under the influence of an impairing substance, nor operate any motor vessel after consuming alcohol sufficient to cause a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or greater.

Paddle Trail and Campsite Rules:

  • No camping at Municipal River Access Parks.
  • Municipal River Access Parks close at dusk.
  • All local, state, and federal laws, regulations, and special orders are enforced.
  • Observe prohibitions against trespassing on private land.
  • Practice Leave-No-Trace principles (from the Center for Outdoor Ethics):
    • Plan Ahead and Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies;
    • Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces—including established trails and campsites;
    • Dispose of Waste Properly—pack it in, pack it out;
    • Leave What You Find—preserve the past; leave plants and natural objects as you find them;
    • Minimize Campfire Impacts—where permitted, keep fires small;
    • Respect Wildlife—observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them;
    • Be Considerate of Other Visitors—let natural sounds prevail.
  • The trail, use of the trail, and trail maintenance do not cause unacceptable damage to other resources or the environment.
  • Observe prohibitions against trespass on private land.
  • Littering, destruction of campsites, flora and fauna, and excessive noise are prohibited.
  • Safety Equipment Checklist:
  • Allow Enough Time
    • Allow two miles per hour canoeing time under normal river conditions.
  • Know the Water
    • Check recent and predicted weather conditions.
    • Find out about river conditions – flooded, low, or normal.
    • A flooded river is often dangerous and should not be canoed.
    • A low river may expose logs and stumps, requiring many liftovers or portages, which make the trip slower and more difficult.
    • Windy conditions can affect canoes and small boats.
  • Play it Safe
    • Secure your car and take keys with you.
    • Canoe in a group or with a buddy.
    • Watch for anglers
    • Let someone know your plans – where you are canoeing and when you plan to be back.
    • Place food and gear in water-tight containers and tie them securely to the canoe.
    • Don’t overload the canoe or small boat. Avoid horseplay.
    • Carry drinking water.
  • Respect Property
    • Don’t litter or pollute the water with trash or other waste.
    • Don’t cut living trees or harass animals.
    • Be careful with campfires. Use cook stoves when possible.
    • Do not access private land without permission.
  • Trail signage.
    • Camp only in designated areas to avoid trespassing.

Leave No Trace Principles

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Rules & Regulations

North Carolina Boating Rules: All recreational vessels must have one Type I, II or III PFD of a suitable size for each person aboard. In ad[...]

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Suggested Trips

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Get To Know Your Watershed

Know your Watershed The French Broad River is the third (3rd) oldest river in the world. The river is even older than the mountains it runs [...]

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"The French Broad River is the third oldest river in the world."

Blue Ridge Heritage National Heritage Area