Personal tools

Return to Top
DNRC Headquarters
1539 Eleventh Ave. Helena, MT 59601
Questions? Email us

Recreational Access Information

Understanding Recreational Use License Requirements

In many states across the country, schools and other institutions are funded in part by revenue generated from certain state land.  We call those lands "state 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 $40M 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.  This use is facilitated and maintained by revenue generated and distributed to the trust beneficiaries (like K-12 schools) through 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 the 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.     

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.  

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: 

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

CountyLocationClosure PeriodNotes
Lewis and Clark 

State Land in T20N R6W S16

(Blocks 1 – 14, NE4, E2NW4, S2)

October 21, 2021 - November 1, 2021

Temporary Management Closure:  Livestock gathered and moved.

Livestock present and concentrated for the purpose of

breeding practices, weaning, and shipping. 



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