Published 2014 by the River Management Society
Why This Document: To help facility and trail planners, and park and recreation project leaders when planning, building, or updating access sites that are tailored to the needs of the canoeists, kayakers, tubers, stand-up paddlers, rowers, or small craft sailors (commonly referred to as “paddlers” in this document). Prepare to Launch! will help with:
Understand Launch Locations: This guide addresses shoreline characteristics often seen along rivers, lakes, or bays and offers tips to help make decisions about appropriate launch design and construction.
Assess and Understand User Needs for Launches: This guide addresses the various types of users and watercraft as well as traffic and accessibility needs.
Understand Launch Design Criteria: This resource will help identify design criteria that can be shared with a contractor, engineer, or designer, depending on the complexity of your site. This guide also offers resources for finding advanced design guidance.
Promote Your Launch Project: This guide can help provide resources and examples to promote planned launch projects to gain community support and fundraising, as needed.
Prepare to Launch! is an update to Logical Lasting Launches, a National Park Service publication that has been a reliable resource for river managers at the federal, agency, state, local, and community level across the country since 2004. Material in the original document provided the basis for this presentation. Prepare to Launch! utilizes decision-based links to guide users through the development process from conception to creating a detailed design and final choices for construction of a launch.
We realize there are some inconsistencies in this document, e.g. the preferred height of a launch from the water. This inconsistency points out that there is not a single standard for launches, and sometimes it depends on what type of boat the majority of users will be launching. Please use this guide as a reference when making informed choices.
Prepare to Launch! is a joint project of the NPS Rivers, Trails, Conservation Assistance Program and the River Management Society. We are grateful for the collaboration of river users, managers, and professionals across the country for this updated resource guide.