The Shepherd Ah Nei Recreation Area just north of Billings, Mont., is one of the most popular off-highway vehicle riding areas in the state.
With 50 miles of trails on more than 1,000 acres, the off-highway riding portion of the Shepherd Ah Nei Recreation Area offers plenty of thrills. The other part of the recreation area, encompassing about 4,000 acres, is dedicated to hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, picnicking and bird watching.
The area is operated by the federal Bureau of Land Management. A day pass is $5 and can be purchased at an on-site kiosk or at the BLM Billings Field office or BLM Montana State office. Both offices are at 5001 Southgate Drive in Billings. Proof of vehicle registration is required.
You must buy a special state recreation permit for each vehicle to ride there.
Montana State Parks notes that OHVs operating on public land for recreational purposes must be registered and display a decal placed in a conspicuous location on the machine. Residents must register their OHVs at the county treasurer’s office in the county where the owner resides. This is a one-time registration and valid until the current owner sells the OHV.
Nonresidents using their OHVs in Montana must buy a Nonresident Annual Use Permit, which is valid January 1 to December 31. North Dakota residents are exempt. The Nonresident Annual Use Permit allows OHV use on trails only. OHVs must be street legal to be ridden on roads. Permits are $35.
You can buy a permit online or at various locations. For more information, go to www.stateparks.mt.gov/recreation/ohvProgram.html.
The OHV area is open for riding from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., and the parking area is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The area is open year-round. But it’s a good idea to check the area’s 24-hour hotline at (406) 896-5014 before heading out to ride because the OHV area is subject to closure to motorized vehicle use due to wet and muddy conditions or fire hazard.
To get there, take Highway 312 east from the old Kmart in Billings Heights. Drive 7.7 miles to the flashing light and turn left onto Shepherd Road. Go 4.78 miles north to Scandia Road. Turn right onto Scandia Road and go 2.6 miles to CA Road and turn left. The OHV parking area is on the left about 4.6 miles farther.
For more information go to www.blm.gov/visit/shepherd-ah-nei. Or contact: BLM Billings Field Office at 5001 Southgate Drive, Billings, MT 59101; (406) 896-5013.