Get on the Water

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!

Get on the Water

Enjoy a 30-second look at what makes the canal a great place to cruise, tour, vacation, and paddle.

Welcome Boaters!

The NYS Canal System is open from mid-May through mid-October, weather permitting. Cruise the historic and scenic waterway and you'll discover scenic vistas, abundant wildlife, and unique communities where you'll find amenities and numerous sites of interest. There are more than 80 public boat ramps along the NYS Canal System where you can launch your own boat for a few hours or a multi-day trip.

Canal Boating Basics

  • Boating is free and no permit is needed to go through a lock.
  • Lock tenders are on hand to assist you and make your experience going through the locks easy and enjoyable.
  • It takes 15 to 20 minutes to go through a lock.
  • Power boats and paddlers share the canal, so be mindful of speed limits and wakes.
  • The canal is open daily from 7am to 5pm, but many locks and lift bridges are open on demand until 10pm.
  • Do your part to prevent the spread of invasive species. Practice CLEAN-DRAIN-DRY.

The NYS Canal System Includes:

  • Erie Canal, which connects the Hudson River with Lake Erie, 338 miles to the west;
  • Champlain Canal, which connects the tidal portion of the Hudson River with Lake Champlain, 63 miles to the north;
  • Oswego Canal, which follows the Oswego River from the Erie Canal 23 miles north to Lake Ontario;
  • Cayuga-Seneca Canal, which connects the Erie Canal to 92 miles of canalized rivers and lakes, including the Seneca River and Cayuga and Seneca Lakes.

Longer Journeys

The NYS Canal System links the Hudson River with Lake Champlain, Lake Ontario, and Lake Erie, allowing boaters to travel from the Atlantic Ocean to the upper Great Lakes. The Canal System is part of the America's Great Loop, a 5,000 to 7,500-mile boating route, and the Triangle Loop, a shorter loop that traverses the Erie and Oswego canals, Lake Ontario, and Canadian waterways before looping back through Lake Champlain and the Champlain Canal.

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.