Currently, there is no permit or visitor fee required for a non-commercial river trip, unless your group size is more than 30. If it is, you need to apply for a Special Recreation Permit by contacting the Fort Benton River Management Station at (877) 256-3252.
The BLM encourages you to register your party prior to your trip for two reasons. It allows us to gather accurate visitor-use statistics to help better manage the river and can be vital in the case of an emergency. You can register at the Fort Benton Visitor Center, Fort Benton Canoe Launch, Fort Benton Motorboat Launch, Wood Bottom, Coal Banks Landing and Judith Landing. If BLM employees are not present, please use the self-registration boxes at these locations.
There is a seasonal restriction on group size launching at Coal Banks Landing or Judith Landing. From June 15 to August 1, groups larger than 20 people may only launch on Wednesdays, Thursdays, or Fridays.
The BLM’s Special Recreation Permit policy defines commercial use in several ways. In general it is defined as recreational use of public lands and related waters for business or financial gain. In addition, BLM’s definition of commercial use includes, ”when any person, group, or organization receives money, or obtains goods and services, as compensation from participants in recreational activities…when anyone collects a fee that is not strictly a sharing of expenses for the purpose of the activity, service, or use.” For example, a non-profit organization advertises guided trips on the Missouri. They collect the advertised fee from those who would like to participate. If a portion of the fee pays a trip leader or guide, or goes to support an organization, foundation, or other cause (e.g., is not strictly a sharing of expenses between trip participants), the use is considered commercial.
The BLM Fort Benton River Management Station can provide a current list of Authorized Outfitting and Vending Services, which includes shuttle services. Click here for the most recent list.