Boating Education

Operator Age Limits

In Montana youths 13 and 14 years of age may operate a motorboat or a personal watercraft powered by a motor rated at more than 10 horsepower only if:

  • They possess a valid Montana motorboat operator's safety certificate;
  • they show evidence of completing another state or organization's NASBLA approved boating safety course; or
  • they are accompanied by someone 18 years of age or older.

Need a duplicate certificate? Get duplicate

Special Events

Float Smart Personal Pontoon Boat Training

Paddle Fest logo

Float Smart is an interactive program for anglers or water recreationists who use one-person pontoon boats. Instructor T.E. Lewis will use video, classroom discussion and on the water demonstrations to cover the basics of inflatable pontoon use, cold water survival, personal protective gear, and what to do when something goes wrong or equipment breaks. This program will open your eyes to circumstances you may never have considered.

Call the contact person listed for more information about the training. To view related safety videos, visit Float Smart.





April 5th, 11 AM–noon

Float Smart

Kalispell Lone Pine State Park

Amy Grout (406) 755-2706

May 1st, 6:30–7:30 PM

Float Smart

Helena Montana Wild Education Center

Liz Lodman (406) 444-9940

May 23rd, 8–9 PM

Float Smart

Whitehall Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park

Rhea K. Armstrong (406) 287-3541

Paddle Fest

Paddle Fest logo

Paddle Fest is a free event that offers the community an introduction to different paddling sports, and promotes safe, responsible boating and the use of life jackets when on the water.

  • When: June 15–Saturday - Noon to 3 PM Doug Ammons presentation at 2:30 in the Group Use Picnic Shelter.
  • Where: Spring Meadow Lake State Park - 2715 Country Club Drive, Helena. Paddling stations will be set up along the north and west shore.
  • Who: Anyone interested in learning about paddling. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Everyone must wear a US Coast Guard approved life jacket. Participants are encouraged to wear their own life jacket if possible. At some stations paddling unassisted will be determined by the child's age, size and/or ability.
  • Special Guest: Doug Ammons, world class kayaker and outdoor adventure author from Missoula will speak at 2:30 in the Group Use Picnic Shelter. Doug will share dazzling outdoor photography and how adventure and the natural world fits into our lives.
  • Stations: Kayaks, paddle rafts, rowing frame rafts, canoes, stand-up paddle boards, throw bags, aquatic invasive species.
  • Partners: Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks in partnership with the US Coast Guard Auxiliary, Adventures Unlimited, Helena Outdoor Club, Pink Cowboy, Capital Sports and many community volunteers.
  • Questions: Contact Liz Lodman, FWP Boat Education Coordinator, (406) 444-9940, email.