Kootenai Falls is the state’s largest undammed waterfall and a popular tourist destination for those passing through. The Kootenai River drops 300 feet in height as it travels a few hundred yards down river, providing a memorable and stunning view. Any photographer or nature lover will be pleasantly surprised.
A swinging bridge at the falls allows access to the opposite side of the Kootenai River, a popular Montana fishing spot. The falls are considered sacred by the Kootenai tribe. They see it as the centre of the universe, a site where tribal members can commune with the spiritual forces that guide the tribe and its individuals individually.
Archaeological evidence indicates that the Kootenai had Native American sweat lodges and encampments all down the river valley, from Pipe Creek (where light clay for pipes was discovered) to the falls area.
Kootenai Falls, Montana, is a magnificent bucket-list destination that enticed my adventurous spirit right away.
As a traveller, I make it a point to go on a relaxing excursion in the great outdoors at least once a year. With the epidemic still making travel tough this year, I opted to satiate my desire with a local excursion.
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Kootenai Falls Trail
The 0.8-mile Kootenai Falls Route, a well-known back trail near Troy, Montana, is a pretty straightforward way to get to the waterfalls. Hikers may see the river from the dirt trail, which cuts through the woodland.
It’s an ideal trip for hikers of any skill level, which is a comfort because I’m not a pro hiker. If you need to sit down or take a break during your stroll, there are numerous benches and boulders throughout the trail.
Despite the fact that the trail is said to be dog-friendly, several reviews advise avoiding it unless you can carry your pet through some of the more difficult terrains.
With this in mind, I’m hesitant to bring any pets unless I utilise the alternative paved walk to an overlook with a view of the falls, which is designated for impaired tourists.
Unfortunately, the path becomes rather hard and difficult to ascend beyond the overlook. While the evaluations were negative about pets and convenient-capped access, they did affirm that the optimum time to stroll the route is from June to September.
Picnic At The Kootenai Falls
The Libby Lions Club has set up a beautiful picnic place near the trailhead parking amid a grove of trees. Picnic tables, grilling spaces, and restrooms are all available at the fully furnished picnic spot.
From May to September, the location also contains a concession stand that sells food and souvenirs as well as giving tourists with information about the falls. There is also an ATM on the premises.
Hunting At The Kootenai Falls
Bighorn sheep require year-round habitat, while whitetail deer, mule deer, and black bear require seasonal habitat. Bighorn sheep hunting is only permitted with a permit. Licensed hunters can participate in archery and rifle hunting seasons for mule deer, white-tailed deer, and black bear, as well as upland game bird and waterfowl hunting.
Fishing: Along three miles of the Kootenai River, the Wildlife Management Area offers walk-in fishing. Bighorn sheep, white-tailed deer, and mule deer can all be spotted on the Wildlife Management Area at any time of year, although fall through spring are the best times to watch them.
In the fall, black bears are a common sight. Moose and elk are occasionally seen, while bobcats and mountain lions are common but rarely seen. Throughout the year, bald eagles can be seen near the Wildlife Management Area, while ospreys can be seen in the spring and summer. Throughout much of the year, shorebirds, waterfowl, and a variety of songbirds can be found along the river.
Kootenai National Forest
The Kootenai National Forest is approximately three times the size of Rhode Island, with 2.2 million acres. As it located in Montana’s northwest quadrant, the forest is bordered on the north by British Columbia, Canada, and on the west by Idaho.
The beautiful mountain ranges of the forest appeal to my naturalist side. Snowshoe Peak, the highest point in the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness, stands at a massive 8,738 feet and boasts breathtaking vistas.
Things To Do In The Kootenai Falls Park
I’m looking forward to hiking around the magnificent Ten Lakes Scenic Area, aside from admiring at the stunning mountains. I’m not sure if I’ll use the horse or cycling trails yet, but it’s an option if I decide to do so later.
To be honest, I intend to spend a lot of time at the park, particularly at Lake Koocanusa and the Kootenai River, where there are numerous water sports opportunities. When I’m done with the exciting stuff, I’m going to spend some relaxing afternoons swimming, boating, or fishing.
Visitors can pan for gold at the brook. Even better, you get to keep any gold you find. Just keep in mind that there are a few rules to follow before you start panning. Most importantly, it is an excellent opportunity for the entire family.
Aside from the things I mentioned, the forest also rents out rock climbing equipment and lookout towers. Although I intend to travel in the summer, I was pleased to learn that The Forest also houses the Turner Mountain Ski Area, which has a vertical of 2110 feet and offers cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.
Kootenai Falls Swinging Bridge
While a picnic is a nice idea, the Kootenai Falls Swinging Bridge piques my interest. The bridge is 35 feet over the Kootenai River, which is rushing. The bridge’s original structure was swept away in the spring of 1948. In 1950, it was replaced with what is today known as The Swinging Bridge.
The new bridge was built higher up, with features such as reinforced concrete stair tower foundations. Aside from the structure, the bridge is a terrific site to take some Instagram-worthy photos, and I’ve heard it’s also a good way to go to a tiny area along the river’s edge.
Even though you can only cross the river by bridge, you can swim in the river once you’ve crossed it because there’s a little beach or bank area that’s safe for swimming.
Another alternative is to hike to the Kootenai Falls route. After a lengthy climb, the natural ponds in front of the falls are ideal for taking a plunge and cooling down.
Where To Stay ?
Because I plan to camp in the park, I’m bringing my picnic blanket and a good book with me so I can kick back and relax while being surrounded by nature.
If camping isn’t for you, the park also offers cabins and houseboats on Lake Koocanusa (which I might try out if I get cold feet about camping.) There are also a number of hotels in the region, as well as more upscale accommodations such as log cabins and guest houses close outside the park.
Other Places To Visit Near Kootenai Falls
- Libby, Montana
I’ll probably be ready to venture beyond the park after a few days in the woods. The Kootenai National Forest is the closest site to explore outside the park because it is located inside the Libby Area. I intend to continue roughing it in the area because there are several camping spots.
However, there are numerous hotels in the area.
The area is also noted for its deer, elk, moose, bear, and mountain sheep hunting, and visitors from outside the state can find several local Outfitters and Guides. For those of us who aren’t interested in hunting, there are considerably more interesting places to visit.
- The Heritage Museum
History buffs will be delighted to learn that Libby has something special in store for them. The Heritage Museum is located on Highway 2 less than a mile south of town.
The Museum, which first opened its doors in 1978, is a piece of history in and of itself. It does, however, have a number of exhibitions containing relics from local Native Americans, loggers, trappers, and pioneers.
Surprisingly, the entire initiative was initiated by volunteers who wished to honour and preserve the area’s rich history. The Museum houses a mix of cultural and natural history exhibits to this day.
The famous wildlife exhibitions, which feature a silver-tipped grizzly bear, fascinate me the most. Travelers should be aware that the Museum is only open during the summer.
- Cabinet View Golf Course
I know I’ll be ready to spend the rest of the day playing a leisurely game of golf after a walk down memory lane at the Museum. Fortunately for me, Libby at Cabinet View Golf Course has exactly what I require.
The magnificent 9-hole course with unbroken views of the Cabinet Mountains sits atop a hill overlooking the city. During the summer, it conducts several leagues and tournaments and has a driving range, clubhouse, practise green, and pro-shop. Carts and clubs are available for rent to visitors.
- Troy, Montana
I’ll be ready to move on to my next adventure after unwinding and recovering for a day or two in Libby. With its extensive range of housing alternatives, the City of Troy appears to be the ideal destination for a respite from camping.
Troy, Montana’s lowest point at 1,892 feet above sea level, is located on the banks of the Kootenai River. Whether you want to go fishing or explore local farmers’ markets and rodeos, Troy has something for everyone.
- Ross Creek Cedar Grove
Western red cedars abound in the Ross Creek Cedar Grove. The location, which is only 29 miles south of Troy, is one of the must-see attractions in the county.
The grove has a temperate rain forest climate, which many believe enables the cedars grow to be as large as 10-12 feet in diameter and 174 feet tall. The grove contains trees that are at least 500 years old.
Visitors can enjoy a mile-long nature walk loop with educational signs discussing the area’s history and ecology. It is a family-friendly and wheelchair-accessible attraction.
There are no campgrounds here, however if you want to stay in this wonderful area, I recommend the Bad Medicine and Dorr Skeels campgrounds nearby.
- Troy Museum & Visitor’s Center
The Troy Museum and Visitor Center, located on Highway 2 on Troy’s east side, is a fantastic site to stop. This volunteer-run attraction houses a collection of historical artefacts from the area.
An enormous wooden sign built by a man named Dave Clarke of Eureka, Montana using just a chainsaw greets visitors at the museum’s entrance.
The Museum provides a variety of events in addition to the objects on show. The annual Arts on the Grass event, co-hosted by Troy Glass Art Guild, is one such example.
The local Frisbee golf course is also located at the Troy Museum and Visitors’ Center. It also has public restrooms, a public posting area, picnic tables, and a parking space that are all publicly accessible.
- Roosevelt City Park
My last stop before heading home will be the park. Roosevelt City Park is located near the Troy Bridge on the banks of the Kootenai River. To get to the park, you’ll have to cross the BNSF train tracks.
Trust me when I say that the trip is definitely worth it because the park has so much to offer. It’s the ideal place to take the family for a day out, with lovely picnic sites, many sports fields, a pavilion, and a children’s fishing pond. There is also a playground and public restrooms in the park.
That’s not all, though. It also has a variety of activities for tourists, including a water play area, skate park, and yurt rental. It’s no surprise that it’s a weekend favourite, even among locals.