Get on the water

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Become a "canaller"

It’s easier than ever to explore America’s most iconic inland waterway. You’ll discover scenic vistas, abundant wildlife, and more than 200 unique communities in the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor. Miles of adventure await on water and on land!

Boating on New York canals is affordable and accessible for every type of boater.

  • Take a cruise- Get on board one of the many tour boats for an hourly cruise, dinner cruise or themed tour. Most boat tours will give you the unique canal experience of going through a lock.
  • Rent a boat- Spend a day, weekend, or an entire week exploring the canal at your own pace. Rental boats are well-equipped with sleeping quarters, a galley, and plenty of deck space for relaxing. You’ll get lessons in steering, docking, and locking through before heading out. Many rental operators provide bicycles so that you can explore on land and experience the Canalway Trail, too.
  • Launch your own boat- With 80 public boat launches along the NYS Canal System, it’s easy to find one close by. The canal connects with Oneida, Onondaga, Cross, and Cayuga and Seneca Lakes where you can enjoy other water sports, beaches, and sailing.
  • Paddle the canal- Get close to the water and access all sorts of interesting side streams and historic canal features in your own kayak, canoe, or stand-up paddleboard. There are lots of launch sites and boater-biker-hiker facilities that allow overnight camping. If you don’t own your own paddle craft, there are many places to rent one by the hour or day. And, kayaks and canoes go through the locks for free!
  • If you’re a landlubber- Stop by one of the many canal harbors, visitor centers, or parks along the canal. Or visit one of the waterway’s 57 locks to watch a passing boat “lock through.” You’ll see tugboats, barges, and historic replica canal boats plying canal waters alongside today’s cruisers, motorboats, tour boats, canoes, and kayaks.

Boating Tips

Make the most of your travels along New York's canals:

  • Expect a leisurely pace on the water. Distance in miles can be misleading, since you must account for both running time and locking. Plan about 20 minutes to pass through each lock.
  • Know your comfort cruising times, e.g., a four, six, or eight hour travel day. You’ll be able to plan a more enjoyable trip if you know your limits and have some sense of where you'll stop for the night.
  • Bring guidebooks and charts. These resources are invaluable for everything from finding gas to knowing the water depth and bridge clearances to planning overnight accommodations. Plan ahead for the services you need and make advance reservations when possible.
  • Follow proper etiquette and rules for safe boating. Stay within the canal speed limits and rules. Remember: You are responsible for your wake along the entire canal.
  • Stop along the way to enjoy canal communities. You'll find unique shops, dining, and a variety of cultural attractions. There are plenty of places to tie up and many canal communities provide visitor centers with restrooms, showers, power, and other services.

NYS CANALS >