General River Information
Boat Registration: you do not need to “register” your boat with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission unless you have a motor on it! Instead of a registration you can get a launch permit if you are using a Fish Commission access point or are boating on a Fish Commission controlled lake or State Park lake. Note: This includes Quemahoning Reservoir. Also if you run Que Creek and take out at Quemahoning Reservoir, you need a permit! Launch permits can be obtained at State Parks, at local sites (in the Johnstown area you can call Geistown Tag & Title, 640 Lamberd Ave, 814-322-1558) or at the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s online site. But to confuse the issue, you can get an unpowered boat registration that is the same price as a launch permit. The sticker is the same size (but green instead of yellow). Not sure if there is an advantage of one over the other.
Also, you do not need a permit to boat on either the Middle Yough or the Lower Yough. You do need a reservation to launch a private boat on the Lower Yough. See the following from the DCNR website.
Also: Whistles on canoes and kayaks (from F&BC website) Operators of unpowered boats (canoes, kayaks, rowboats, paddleboards) are required to carry a device capable of sounding a prolonged blast for 4-6 seconds that can be heard by another boat operator in time to avoid a collision. An athletic coach’s whistle is acceptable. And (for paddling after dark) lights: A white light either hand-held or installed ready to be displayed in time to avoid a collision (again, this is only for unpowered boats).
Private Trips: Go online to www.visitPAparks.com or call 888-PA-PARKS to schedule a launch time. Equipment rentals are available in the town of Ohiopyle. There is a fee to launch boats on weekends and holidays on the Lower Yough. During the week, boaters must sign-in at the launch area. Shuttle tokens, available at the launch area, must be purchased 7 days a week during the summer season.
Inexperienced boaters should not attempt the Youghiogheny River without qualified guides.
Make a reservation for camping at a state park.
Boat Rentals: Recreational kayaks can be rented at Saltsburg River & Trail and Wilderness Voyagers. Note: both of these companies will bring boats and instructors to a site for a large group. They also rent bicycles. Wilderness Voyagers also runs rafting trips on the Yough. A local company, Coal Tubin, is now running rafting trips on the Stony. They should be available during the Rendezvous, scheduled Releases, and when ever Mother Nature blesses us with good water.
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has a page that shows all of the River Trails in Pennsylvania.