MONTANA-DAKOTAS RECREATION ACTIVITIES
Recreation opportunities abound on over 8 million acres of BLM-administered public land in Montana and the Dakotas on a diverse scope of landscape types.
Enjoy fly fishing on the Blackfoot River Corridor outside of Missoula, Mont. or cast your lines on the Madison River while secluded in the Bear Trap National Wilderness Area.
Hike on many of Montana and the Dakotas most scenic lands. Whether you want to take a short day hike or a longer backcountry excursion, public lands offer a premier destination to take in a little nature.
BLM-managed lands in the Montana and Dakotas also are home to many historical and culturally significant area. Walk in the Lewis and Clark Expedition's step at Pompeys Pillar National Monument and along the Upper Missouri River Wild and Scenic River, or take a peek into yesteryear at Garnet Ghost Town in Western Montana.
Wildlife watching is made easy in one of the many wilderness study areas, and there are plenty of places to hunt, fish and camp in the Montana and Dakotas.
Please enjoy your public lands responsibly, and be prepared for changing weather conditions, rough roads and possible predator sightings.
The BLM maintains a large number of camping sites on public land; the public is welcome to make use of the facilities provided. BLM offices have printed information on campgrounds.
The BLM and U.S. Forest Service regulate the use of roads, trails, and lands under their jurisdiction to accomplish specific land management objectives, protect resources, and provide public safety. This may involve the restriction or closure of certain areas to vehicles, etc. To avoid any inconvenience to you, we advise that you check for any restrictions posted at these sites. You may want to consult the local BLM or U.S. Forest Service office for the most current information and more specific information; fire danger information can also be provided.
There are no designated long-term camping areas in Montana, North Dakota or South Dakota; the maximum stay is 16 days.
Camping is permitted on BLM lands that have not been developed as a camp site. You must have legal access to the area and travel on existing roads and trails. The maximum stay is also 16 days.
For other information on camping opportunities in Montana, North Dakota or South Dakota, you may want to contact the appropriate tourism office:
1424 9th Ave.
Helena MT 59620
South Dakota Tourism
Capital Lake Plaza
Pierre SD 57501
North Dakota Tourism
PO Box 2057
Bismarck ND 58503-2057
For further information on recreation you can browse the following web site: http://www.recreation.gov
We ask you to follow a policy of "Treading Lightly." By picking up litter, avoiding travel that could damage the land, observing signs and posted areas, leaving all gates as you found them, and asking permission to enter private lands, you will enhance the public's opportunity to enjoy these lands in the future. We hope you enjoy your camping experience on BLM lands.
Your interest in hiking in Montana is understandable given the vast open spaces available! The BLM and U.S. Forest Service regulate the use of roads, trails, and lands under their jurisdiction in order to meet specific land management objectives, protect resources, and provide public safety. When hiking or planning to hike, you should be aware that these regulations may result in restricting travel to certain roads and trails, or closing areas to specific modes of travel. These restrictions have been posted at the site. You may want to check with the local BLM or U.S. Forest Service office for more current or specific information, as well as any fire danger restrictions.
The BLM has established hiking areas in a number of public land areas. Areas open year round include Divide Bridge, Red Mountain (which is a nine-mile walk through Bear Trap Canyon), and Humbug Spires.
The following information details a few of the more prominent BLM areas in Montana.
Humbug Spires area is ideal for hiking due to its rolling hills graced with lodgepole pine, Douglas Fir, and majestic white granite spires. There are no specific trails and the land is not uncomfortably rugged. One can set their own direction in an unregimented area. Hikers of all ages and attitudes will find this to be a worthwhile venture. For more information on this area, contact the Butte Field Office.
Holter Lake/Sleeping Giant Recreation Area provides an excellent scenic setting, topped off by the Gates of the Mountain Canyon, for hikers to enjoy. Contact the Butte Field Office for more information on this area.
Centennial Mountains provide Montana with 21,000 acres of natural, unspoiled views of subalpine forests along the Continental Divide. Excellent views of the Red Rocks Lakes National Wildlife Refuge await the avid hiker. For more information on this area, contact the Dillon Field Office.
Bighorn Canyon is a spectacular area of sand hills, colorful canyons with 2,000-feet high cliffs, and prairie grasslands. Hiking is possible along Bad Pass Road throughout the area. For more information on this area, contact the National Park Service's web page for that area.
Pryor Mountains. This area allows the more experienced hiker a place to roam and explore along with the wild horses that inhabit the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range. Accessed by County Road 16, Sykes Coulee is visited by few and accessible by 4-wheel drive,high clearance vehicles only. A visit to this area rewards visitors with a sweeping view south into Bighorn Basin. This three mile area is rough, but the view from Sykes Ridge is worth the effort. Further down the road towards the open rocky South Ridge of East Pryor Mountain, there are a number of short (up to two miles round trip) hiking opportunities in the Wild Horse Park. For further information, contact the Billings Field Office.
Four areas along Ear Mountain have been designated as Outstanding Natural Areas (ONAs) due to their scenic quality and wild land resources. The ONAs total 13,087 acres and are located about 20 miles west of Choteau, Montana. For more information on this area, please contact the Lewistown Field Office.
Square Butte Natural Area, which is approximately 20 miles north of Stanford, Montana, is unique in geological, historical, and scenic values. Please contact the Lewistown Field Office for more information.
Upper Missouri National Wild and Scenic River offers outstanding hiking opportunities. This 149-mile segment of the Missouri is the only major portion of the mighty Missouri to be protected and preserved in its natural, free flowing state. It is also the premier segment of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. You may contact the Lewistown Field Office for more information on this area.
Collar Peak Trail. Scenic views of the Judith Mountains can be experienced from this trail. To obtain more trail information, contact the Lewistown Field Office.
Please help protect all natural areas and add to the enjoyment of others by "Treading Lightly." We ask that you pick up litter, observe and obey signs and posted areas, leave gates as you found them, and ask permission before entering private lands.
We have some printed information you may find useful. Send an email to the address below if you are interested in copies. Enjoy your hiking experience in Montana's great outdoors.
Rockhounding is a permitted recreational activity on public land administered by the Bureau of Land Management. The usual rock hound materials, including agates and stones, may be collected in reasonable quantities for hobby use. Petrified wood collection on BLM lands is limited to 25 pounds plus one piece per day to a maximum of 250 pounds per year.
Rock hounds are allowed to collect rocks found on the surface of the ground. Power equipment or explosives may not be used for excavation or to collect materials or wood without written authorization from the appropriate BLM office.
The Archeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 prohibits the excavation, taking, or destruction of any historic or prehistoric site or any object of antiquity on lands under federal jurisdiction. Vertebrate and other fossils of "recognized scientific interest" also are protected.
The BLM requires permits for the collection of certain fossils. Permits are granted only to qualified institutions for bona fide scientific research and are not issued to casual recreationists, even though they may have an interest in fossils.
Sites having apparent scientific or historic potential, such as cabins, prehistoric campsites, buffalo jumps, fossil beds, etc., should be reported to the nearest BLM office. They will then be evaluated by a archaeological or paleontological specialist.
Maps are available for $4 each. These maps will reflect federal ownership of both surface and subsurface estates. These maps will not show where you might find petrified wood, agates, geodes, sapphires or other rockhounding items. Many of the areas have unpatented or private mining claims on or near them. Always ask permission before crossing or entering upon private property. To order maps, please list the name and number of the maps you want and enclose the appropriate payment. Please do not send cash. Checks and money orders should be made out to the Department of the Interior-BLM, and mailed to BLM Maps, 5001 Southgate Drive, Billings, MT 59101. If you would like to expedite your order by using Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover, you may place your order over the phone by calling (406) 896-5000. Maps can also be purchased at the BLM State Office in Billings, 5001 Southgate Drive, between the hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.
Specific information on the geology of Montana and the distribution of various minerals is available from geologists in our local BLM offices. A map showing BLM office boundaries and locations is available on-line. You may also want to contact the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, Helena, Montana: U.S. Forest Service, Missoula, Montana; Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, Butte Montana; and local universities. Local rock shops are an excellent resource for collectors. The Rock Hound's Guide to Montana (available at your local bookstore) has a listing of the shops, as well as other useful information.
An objective of the BLM is to promote harmony in balancing the many uses of the federal lands. As a rockhound, you have room to roam in enjoying your hobby but are requested to respect all natural resources and the interests others have in them.