Recreate Responsibly on the Water This Summer

Anna Berry | May 17, 2022
A father and son, both in lifejackets, kayak together on the Merrimack River.

Whether you're taking part in our Merrimack Paddle Challenge, starting June 15, along the mighty Merrimack River or just planning to kayak in a local pond, it's important to recreate responsibly and safely this summer. (Looking for a new-to-you waterway? Search our Forest Reservation Guide by type of recreation, including "paddling"!)

Here are a few tips:

  • Always wear a life jacket or vest! New Hampshire law requires one wearable life preserver for each person in a boat. All children age 12 or under must wear an approved vest or jacket.
  • What to bring: PFD/lifejacket, water, food, water shoes, sunscreen and hat (high sun exposure), binoculars (optional), swimsuit (optional)
  • Plan ahead: Pay attention to weather and environmental conditions (forecasted thunderstorms, previous rainfall affecting river flow) and always err on the side of caution. 
  • Paddle smart: Paddle the upstream portion of your paddle first, so you can plan have enough energy to make it to your destination.
  • Clean, Drain & Dry: Before and after paddling, implement the Clean, Drain & Dry method to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. Learn more from NH Lakes.
  • Recreate responsibly: It's wildlife season so during the dry summer months, it's important to learn and follow these guidelines to help prevent wildfires during your outdoor recreation. also has water responsibility guidelines here.

Two people in a canoe on the Merrimack River.

More resources:

  • The U.S. Coast Guard app includes state boating information; a safety equipment checklist; free boating safety check requests; navigation rules; float plans; and calling features to report pollution or suspicious activity. When location services are enabled, users can receive the latest weather reports from the closest National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather buoys as well as report the location of a hazard on the water
  • Wear the right life jacket is a guide from the Safe Boating Campaign.
  • If you're hiking before, during, or after your paddle, remember to hike safe and bring the 10 essentials: map, compass, warm clothing, sweater or fleece jacket, long pants, hat, extra food and water, flashlight or head lamp, matches/firestarter, first aid kit, whistle, rain/wind jacket and pants, and pocket knife.