By Erin Proctor, OHV Program Manager

It’s time for an update to the “Off-Road Montana” brochure! We’ll start off by renaming it, so there’s no confusion between what’s old & outdated and what’s new & current. Your new brochure will be called the Montana Motorized Recreation Handbook, and combines information from both the “Off-Road Montana” and “Hunting and ATVs” pamphlets currently in circulation. Sections will include: How Permit Dollars are Used; Definitions; Safety & Equipment; Title, Registration and Permit Requirements; Other OHV Regulations; Sharing Trails, Safe & Ethical Use; Hunting & OHVs; Additional Resources; and Tread Lightly! practices. Expect to see clearly defined laws as well as good and ethical best practice suggestions. 

Off-highway vehicles (OHVs) are used for many different reasons in Montana, including recreation. OHV use is increasingly popular and can significantly impact the economics of our State. Riders of all ages, abilities and even those with disabilities can enjoy the iconic scenery and health benefits inherent in outdoor recreation.

Access to trails and OHV areas on Public land is a privilege, and conscientious use of that privilege will help to maintain these important resources and opportunities. When riders obey the laws, recreate safely, ethically and responsibly, abide by road and trail restrictions and interact with other trail users in a positive manner, it encourages others to do the same. Conversely, when OHV users act in unlawful, unsafe and disrespectful ways towards the environment, wildlife and other users, the future of our sport is at risk.

This handbook explains how each motorized recreationist can ensure the future of OHV recreation in Montana through safe, legal, ethical and responsible OHV use. You will find helpful information about safety equipment, sharing multiple use trails, hunting, OHV education, Montana’s OHV laws, and more!

You can also expect several new sections that have been added, or could be added post-Legislative Session. Look for information on electric bicycles, nonresident annual use permits, nonresident temporary registration permits, and possibly even a resident trail pass.

Electrically-Assisted Bicycle – A vehicle on which a person may ride that has two tandem wheels and an electric motor capable of propelling the vehicle and a rider who weighs 170 pounds no faster than 20 miles an hour on a paved, level surface. MCA 61-8-102 

** The Forest Service’s Travel Management Rule (TMR) defines “motor vehicle” as “any vehicle which is self-propelled…” This includes electrically-assisted bicycles, or “e-bikes.” E-bikes are allowed with the TMR designations for “Roads Open to All Vehicles,” “Trails Open to All Vehicles,” “Trails Open to Vehicles 50” or Less in Width,” and “Trails Open to Motorcycles Only.” **

Temporary Registration Permit:

Resident – Upon purchase of a new OHV, the dealership will issue a temporary registration permit on behalf of the MVD, which is valid for forty days. The owner shall then apply to the MVD at a County Treasurer’s office for a permanent registration.

Nonresident – A nonresident owner of an OHV may be issued a temporary registration permit to temporarily operate an OHV designed for off-road recreational use on the highways of this state when the OHV is equipped for use on the highways, but the OHV is not registered or is only registered for off-road use in the nonresident’s home state.

Nonresident OHV Use Permit: Nonresidents who wish to operate their OHV in Montana must purchase a temporary use permit. Reciprocity (exemption) is currently in place with Idaho and North Dakota. The permit is valid for one calendar year. Refer to the beginning of this section to find out how to obtain this permit.

The upgrade also includes a more comprehensive accounting of current and applicable laws, relevant and up-to-date graphics, as well as several handy checklists and even great information about trail sharing and right-of way ethics. Montana State Parks and the OHV Program are very excited about the improvements to the new brochure and we want to thank the Off-Highway Vehicle Advisory Committee, the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management for their assistance in reviewing and verifying the accuracy of the information that will be presented.