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Stream Access in Montana

Fish > Access Stream Access in Montana

Montana Stream Access Law

Under the Montana Stream Access Law, the public may use rivers and streams for recreational purposes up to the ordinary high-water mark. Although the law gives recreationists the right to use rivers and streams for water-related recreation, it does not allow them to enter posted lands bordering those streams or to cross private lands to gain access to streams. 


Bridge Access

House Bill 190, passed during the 2009 Legislative Session, confirmed that the public has access to surface waters by public bridge or county road right-of-way. The Department, in cooperation with the affected landowner and county, is responsible for providing public passage around or through a fence preventing such access. A typical access feature would be a stile, gate, roller, walkover, or wooden rail fence.


National Parks, Indian Reservations, and Wildlife Refuges

Certain waters on national parks, indian reservations, or wildlife refuges may have special rules. Specific information may be obtained from the headquarters of the park, reservation, or refuge involved.


Recreational Mining

Recreational mining must adhere to closures and restrictions indicated in the Instream Mining Stream Classification list. 


Need more information?

Copies of the law may be obtained by sending a request to the Montana Legislative Council, Room 138, Capitol Building, Helena, MT 59620, or by calling (406) 444-3064.