Vessel Inspection program

Banned Vessels

Vessels registered out-of-state, or in counties south of the Tehachapi Mountains (San Luis Obispo, Kern, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Diego and Imperial) are banned from Santa Clara County waterways (active military members stationed in a permissible area excepted, see military exception below).

All other vessels originating from permissible areas must pass a vessel inspection.

Please continue to be diligent in making your vessel - boat, kayak, personal watercraft etc. clean and dry. Not a spot of water can be seen or felt - even water from your beverage cooler, or water toys.

  • Santa Clara County Parks wants to educate park visitors on the quagga and zebra mussel threat. These tiny mussels are an invasive species that present a negative environmental impact on California’s reservoirs and waterways. They can breed rapidly and can clog pipes and valves posing a threat to municipal water systems, aquatic food chains in lakes, access for fishing and boating, and recreation-based economics.
  • All watercraft, including but not limited to, power boats, personal watercraft, sailboats, kayaks, canoes, and float tubes will be subject to inspection. Please prepare your vessel – powerboats, kayaks, canoes, personal watercraft, etc. - for inspection by having them clean and DRY.



    “Clean and dry” means that no dirt, vegetation, or water can be found anywhere on the vessel. This includes internal compartments of the vessel and the engine. When your outboard is lowered, not a drop of water can flow out. If any water is observed anywhere, however slight, your vessel will fail inspection!

    • Wash the hull of each vessel thoroughly.
    • The vessel must be clean and thoroughly DRY prior to arriving at one of the five reservoirs listed.
    • Inspect all exposed surfaces – small mussels feel like sandpaper to the touch.
    • Drain plugs pulled, no water in bilge, live well or integral coolers.
    • No mud, debris, aquatic weed or algae on hull, trailer or motor.
    • Lower units on vessels should be dry – when lowered they should not contain water.
    • Operators of vessels: please clean and dry your vessel prior to arrival at the park. If you are seen cleaning/drying your vessel on park property you will be quarantined for 5 days.
    • Before you go out to a reservoir, please take a look at the "A Guide to Cleaning Boats" provided to you by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

    If a vessel fails inspection it will be quarantined for 5 days or banned indefinitely until released by the California Department of Fish & Wildlife if mussels or larvae are detected on the vessel or its trailer.


    • (Current vessel registration documents that demonstrate the vessel is registered in a permissible area and you have possessed the vessel for at least 30 days if the vessel is used and has recently changed ownership are required at the time of inspection. Remember to bring your registration documents.
      • Active Military Exception: If you are an active military member, stationed in a permissible area, you are not required to re-register your vessel to a permissible area. You will need to provide documentation of your military status, current address, and that the vessel is registered in your name for the military exception to apply.
    • If the vessel is not required to be registered then the vehicle registration will be required.
    • All used vessels that have been recently purchased will be quarantined for 30-days from the date of transfer of ownership​. If you are an operator or owner of a recently purchased used vessel, please make sure to bring documentation of the transfer date to show that 30 days have elapsed from the purchase date. Without proper DMV paperwork, or documentation of the transfer date, our inspectors will not be able to inspect your vessel, and the vessel will be quarantined for 30 days from your arrival at the inspection station.


    • A “banding” program is offered to vessel owners in an effort to reduce additional fees being collected, and to bypass full inspection on your next visit to a Santa Clara County Park. Once a vessel has left the reservoir for the day, a band may be attached to the vessel between the winch hook of the trailer and the eyebolt of the bow of the vessel. If this band is broken upon reentry into the reservoir, that vessel must be re-inspected before entering the water and an inspection fee will be collected.
    • Beginning in 2022 vessels will no longer be banded if the inspection band must be affixed to a removable part of the vessel. Example: a kayak’s seat or rudder.
    • Please allow yourself enough time to get your boat off the water and banded before the inspection station closes at half hour before sunset.
    • Although we are working on reciprocal banding with a few sister agencies, Santa Clara County Parks is not currently accepting other agency’s inspection bands. If you have been banded by another agency, it will not be honored by our inspectors. Owners and operators of vessels with other jurisdiction’s bands need to be prepared for a full inspection which means “clean and dry”.


    We strongly encourage boaters to get their boat inspected and banded prior to wet weather to insure that their vessel will be able to launch on a rainy day.

    However, to facilitate boating when pre-banding is not feasible, inspectors may allow a launch of an un-banded boat if the following conditions are met:

    • The boat arrives covered;
    • the interior of the boat is completely dry under the cover;
    • when the outboard is lowered for inspection, no water flows out;
    • the exterior of the boat is clean (i.e.: no mud, vegetation or rough services that may be microscopic quagga or zebra mussels),
    • and, in the inspector's opinion the only exterior wetness appears to be road splash and/or rain water.

    Please be aware, that the inspectors decision about whether an un-banded boat may launch on a rainy day is final. Although an inspector may allow a covered boat to launch, there is a chance a boater may be denied a launch based on the inspector's observations.


    • For additional information on the quagga and zebra mussel threat, click here to view the CA Department of Fish and Wildlife Quagga and Zebra Mussel website

    The future of boating in Santa Clara County waterways depends on your cooperation and support.


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