DNR Lake Permits

There are no longer daily or annual boat launch fees for lakes at state parks, reservoirs and forests. This changed in January 2006. These launch fees have been replaced by a DNR Lake Permit, which now costs $25 a year for each motorized watercraft lake permit and $5 a year for each non-motorized watercraft lake permit.

This fee is separate from Indiana's BMV boat registration.

Who must have this permit?

All private watercraft using state park, reservoir or forestry lakes must have this permit. This includes personal watercraft, motorboats, canoes, paddleboats, rowboats and all watercraft moored at marinas, private docks, group docks or bank ties. State-owned watercraft and state-managed boat rental concessions are exempt.

Which lakes actually require this permit?

This permit should be placed on any boat that will be on the water at Indiana state parks, state-managed reservoirs or state forests. This includes the main bodies of water and all fishing ponds/lakes at:

  • All lakes at Chain O’Lakes State Park
  • Cagles Mill (Lieber) Lake
  • Cecil M. Harden (Raccoon) Lake.
  • Brookville Lake
  • Hardy Lake
  • Kunkel Lake at Ouabache State Park
  • Lake Lincoln and Weber Lake at Lincoln State Park.
  • Lakes Shakamak, Lenape and Kickapoo at Shakamak State Park
  • Mississinewa Lake
  • Monroe Lake
  • Ogle and Strahl Lakes at Brown County State
  • Patoka Lake
  • Salamonie Lake
  • Spring Mill Lake at Spring Mill State Park
  • Summit Lake at Summit Lake State Park
  • Versailles Lake at Versailles State Park
  • Whitewater Lake at Whitewater State Park
  • Worster Lake at Potato Creek State Park

It also includes all lakes at state forest properties:

  • Clark State Forest
  • Deam Lake SRA
  • Ferdinand State Forest
  • Greene-Sullivan State Forest
  • Harrison-Crawford State Forest
  • Jackson-Washington State Forest
  • Martin State Forest
  • Morgan-Monroe State Forest
  • Owen-Putnam State Forest
  • Pike State Forest
  • Starve Hollow SRA
  • Yellowwood State Forest

It includes lakes at Division of Outdoor Recreation properties:

  • Lakes at Interlake State Recreation Area
  • Lakes at Redbird State Recreation Area

Are there lakes that do NOT require this permit?

There are a number of locations around the state with public access sites maintained by the Division of Fish and Wildlife where this permit is not needed. If you plan to boat only in these locations and not in any of the locations listed in #2 above, you do not need a lake permit. The permit is not required for boating on Indiana streams and rivers. It is not required for boating on the Ohio River. Natural lakes such as Lake James, Lake Wawasee and Lake Michigan do not require this lake permit. Lakes located in state fish & wildlife areas that are operated by the Division of Fish and Wildlife do not require this permit. Lakes at National Forests and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Refuges do not require this permit.

Where do I purchase this permit?

It is best to purchase the permit in advance of your visit if possible to ensure that you are in compliance with the requirement. This annual DNR lake permit is available for purchase at state park, reservoir and forests at property offices and entrance gates when staffed. It is also available at the Customer Service Center in the Indiana Government Center and online through the DNR's e-store at www.innsgifts.com At the beginning of the recreation season, attendants are at some launching ramps to sell these permits, but not every ramp or every day. State forest property offices may not be open on weekends and on some weekdays.

How do I know which permit to purchase (motorized or non-motorized)?

Any private watercraft that will be moored or operating with a gasoline or electric motor on one of the lakes listed in #2 on the front page of this document must have a $25 motorized permit. Canoes, rowboats and paddleboats that will never be used with an electric or gas motor on the lakes listed in #2 can have a $5 non-motorized permit. If a canoe or rowboat will be used with a motor at some time during the year on one of the listed lakes, a $25 motorized permit should be purchased.

Where do I put the permit on my boat?

The back of the permit provides detailed instructions and an illustration. Place the permit on the left front side (port side) of the boat. Do not place the permit on the boat windshield.

I already pay a lake and river enhancement (LARE) fee when I license my boat each year. Why do I have to buy a lake permit, too?

The LARE fee and the lake permit are two entirely different programs. Funds from the lake permit are deposited in a dedicated account along with camping, entrance, swimming and program fees. That dedicated account supports the operations of state parks, reservoirs and forests and those funds are used only in those locations. These funds are used for staff, equipment, supplies and all of the services provided to site visitors. Approximately two thirds of the operating dollars for state parks and reservoirs comes from these fees. The remaining one-third comes from tax dollars appropriated from the General Fund by the state legislature. Funds from the LARE program are administered by the Division of Fish and Wildlife, and the program’s purpose is to ensure the continued viability of Indiana’s publicly accessible lakes, streams, and reservoirs by controlling inflows of eroded soil and associated nutrients to lakes, streams, and reservoirs.

Can I still buy a daily launching permit?

No. The lake permit replaces both daily launching permits and the annual launch permit. You only need to buy a permit one time; not each time you visit one of the lakes on the list. You’ll be able to launch and get on the water with no delays to pay attendants.

Why did the DNR make this change from a launching permit to a lake permit?

This approach will significantly decrease staffing demands at boat ramps and increase the DNR’s ability to enforce this permitting requirement.

Will Indiana Conservation Officers be watching for this lake permit?

Yes, they will. If an Indiana Conservation Officer stops your boat, they will be looking to see if your lake permit is properly mounted on the boat’s left (port) front side. The Division of Law Enforcement has been an integral part of the planning for this new approach. They will be providing both education and enforcement as they patrol Indiana lakes in the coming months.

PDF Version of this information.