State of Montana Website Montana State Parks Website
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]

Handbook of Montana Boating Laws and Responsibilities

The Handbook of Montana Boating Laws and Responsibilities summarizes Montana's boating laws and regulations. It supplies the information that most boaters need to know about operating their watercraft in Montana.

Boating Safety Courses

Boating safety courses are available in several ways to help you get the training you need:

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.

Date/Time Event Location Contact
April 5
11 am – noon
Float Smart Kalispell
Lone Pine State Park
Amy Grout
(406) 755-2706
May 1
6:30 – 7:30 pm
Float Smart Helena
Montana Wild Education Center
Liz Lodman
(406) 444-9940
May 23
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 p.m. 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, 444-9940, email.