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DNRC Headquarters
1539 Eleventh Ave. Helena, MT 59601
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Recreational Access Information

Understanding Recreational Use License Requirements

In Montana and many states across the country, schools and other institutions are funded in part by revenue generated from certain state land.  We call those state lands "trust land".  Some states have little to no trust land remaining, and not all states allow open access for public recreation on their trust land. 

The State of Montana proudly maintains 5.2 Million acres of trust land, and through management of those lands provides over $40 Million each year to help fund K-12 schools in our state.  Montana also maintains the public's privilege to recreate on legally accessible trust land, including certain lands that are leased primarily for other purposes.  Public recreational use on trust land is made possible by revenue generated for trust beneficiaries (like K-12 schools) by Recreational Use Licenses for general recreation on trust land, and Conservation Licenses for hunting and fishing on trust land.  Securing your appropriate license(s) is required to help fund schools in Montana, and, along with responsible stewardship of the land, helps keep Montana's trust land open to recreational use.  


Purchase your License Here


Understanding Legal Access

Legally accessible state trust lands means:  state trust lands that can be accessed by dedicated public road, public right-of-way, or public easement; by public waters such as lakes, rivers, and streams that are recreationally navigable under 23-2-302, MCA; by adjacent federal, state, county, or municipal land if that adjacent land is open to public use; or by adjacent private land if permission to cross the land has been secured from the landowner. Accessibility by aircraft does not render lands legally accessible under this definition. The granting of permission by a private landowner to cross private property in a particular instance does not subject the state land that is accessed to general recreational use by members of the public other than those granted permission.

Understanding Trust Land Access and Limitations: 

Although most legally accessible trust lands are open to recreational use, some lands may be subject to special closures or restricted to certain recreational uses through categorical (blanket) closures, temporary management closures, and site-specific closures or restrictions. 

Please see Administrative Rule 36.25.149 for a list of standing rules and restrictions, or contact your local field office if you have any questions. 

Categorical Closures:  Certain lands are categorically closed to recreational use:  those lands under lease for residential or commercial use, lands with actively growing crop, military leases where military activities are taking place, and any lands where the department has proclaimed the threat of wildfire to be extreme pursuant to Administrative Rule 36.10.119.     

Management Closures:  From time to time, lessees may need to temporarily restrict access to their leased land for certain concentrated livestock management activities, weed spraying, or irrigation.  Additionally, certain lands may be temporarily closed by the department for fire danger or fire management activities.   Management closures will be posted at customary access points and on this webpage.  A table is provided below for all active management closures. 

Site-specific Closures or Restrictions:  Some legally accessible trust land may have unique management constraints, habitat concerns, or may be in areas that require special restrictions for public safety.  Site-specific closures and restrictions will be posted at customary access points to the applicable parcel(s), and will be posted on our Closures and Restrictions web app.  


Management Closures List: 

The following tracts are temporarily closed to recreational use for lease or land management reasons during the specified time-frame:  

CountyLocationClosure PeriodNotes
Lewis & Clark 

 Lease #263 at T20N-R6W-Sec. 16 

 October 22, 2022-October 31, 2022

Closure in place for weaning, shipping, pregnancy testing, vaccination of cattle.  The entire section is closed to all recreational uses during closure period.  Hunting and recreation will resume on November 1. Cattle may still be present on the combined deeded and State Trust Lands to complete cattle management operations. 


Site Specific Closures and Restrictions Web App: 

This web app shows long-term site-specific closures and restrictions. Click the map image to open the application. 

 Link to closures and restrictions web app