The Handbook of Iowa: Boating Laws and Responsibilities

The Handbook of Iowa: Boating Laws and Responsibilities


The Handbook of Iowa: Boating Laws and Responsibilities is the official boating handbook developed for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. The handbook introduces you to Iowa laws governing boating and provides general information about safe vessel operation on Iowa waterways.

Visit the largest lake in Iowa, Lake Red Rock, for sunny days on the water full of waterskiing, wake boarding, and boating. Or, for a more idyllic boating experience, visit the beautiful West Lake Okoboji and East Lake Okoboji and their popular beaches.

Use this handbook to familiarize yourself with steps to make all your boating outings safe and enjoyable. Remember, safety on Iowa waterways is the responsibility of all boaters. 

Topics include:

  • Vessel Basics
  • Navigation Rules
  • Nighttime Navigation
  • Emergencies
  • Personal Watercraft (PWCs)
  • Iowa Boating Laws and Regulations
  • Required Equipment
  • Skiing
  • And much more…

Boater Education

You may have heard that you need a boating license to operate your boat, but what you really need is a boaters safety course. Whether or not your state requires education, it can reduce boating accidents and injuries on the water. Boaters can keep themselves and their passengers safe by learning about responsible boat operation, etiquette, and the rules of the waterways.

Persons 12 to 17 years of age who operate a motorized vessel over 10 horsepower in Iowa must successfully complete an Iowa-approved boat education course.