Seal of Dane County County of Dane
Dane County Parks

Tenney Lock for Boaters

Experience theTenney Lock and Dam Dane County Tenney Lock and Spillway – one of three boat locks located on the Yahara River. Tenney Lock is the largest lock and is located on Lake Mendota within the City of Madison. The lock is operated by a parks lock attendant during specific park hours (see schedule below) and requires a permit for use. The fee for the permit is used to offset the cost of the attendant. Public restrooms are available during the hours of lock operations, refer to the Tenney Lock Schedule below. 

If you need access through Tenney Lock off-hours, please contact Dane County Parks (Monday - Friday) at least 48 hours in advance.  There will be a $50 minimum charge.  Total charge will be determined by service requested.

Parks Office:  (608) 224-3730
Tenney Lock:  (608) 221-7202

Purchase a Tenney Lock Permit     Tenney Lock Schedule     History     Lake Access & Boating     

Boat Size Limitations

You cannot go through Tenney Lock or any of the county locks with a raised mast. Water levels determine the clearance height for a boat to move through the Lock. Generally, in normal water conditions 6 feet is the maximum height. During times of high water conditions, the maximum height will be less. Height is also an issue on the Yahara River (canal) moving between Mendota and Monona. At least one bridge through this stretch has a maximum height of 6 feet.  See Tenney Lock Fact Sheet (PDF) for additional information.

Fact Sheet

Lock Safety Tips

  • Shut off motor.
  • No amplified music.
  • Keep hands, feet and other body parts inside boat and remain seated.
  • Expect some movement of the boat as water level changes. Chains on the lock walls are provided to assist with boat stability.
  • No smoking while in the lock chambers. Exhaust fumes or gas from unspent fuel could ignite or explode.
  • Do not exit boat while in the lock. Bathrooms are available for your use after boat is through the lock. (Currently closed due to COVID-19)