SUMMER PLUS is a supplement to The Spokesman−Review • Wednesday, May 1, 2019
Montana’s Kootenai Falls is a Stunning Spot with Cultural Significance
Story and photos by Sandra Hosking Marketing Correspondent
When one sits on the riverbank listening to the roar of water cascading over Kootenai Falls, it’s simple to see why this spot is a place of historical and cultural significance and held sacred by local tribes. Located on the Kootenai River along U.S. 2 between Troy and Libby in Montana, the falls is one of the largest natural, free-flowing waterfalls in the region. Canadian explorer David Thompson portaged around the falls in the 1800s, and scenes from “The Revenant” and
“The River Wild” were filmed here. A stuntman working on “The Revenant” reportedly was injured when he went over the falls. The area is home to bighorn sheep and deer, as well as elk, moose and black bears. During the summer, as many as 600 people visit Kootenai Falls daily. “It’s one of the more popular recreation sites in the Kootenai National Forest,” said Willie Sykes, a spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service. “It’s a nice day site for people to cross the swinging bridge
and check out the falls.” Water levels vary with the seasons and depend on the volume of water released from the Libby Dam, about 30 road miles upriver. “Any time is beautiful there,” said Kirsten Kaiser, Three Rivers District Ranger. “There’s always water flowing over the falls.” The site also has a small restaurant with hamburgers, hot dogs, and snacks, as well as restroom facilities. The Libby Lions Club built a picnic area amongst the trees at the main trailhead.
A 1.6-mile trail leads down a treed embankment to a fenced bridge over railroad tracks then down to the suspension bridge over the river where one can view the 30-foot falls. The bluegreen river drops into a deep canyon, lined by conifer trees. It is swift and dangerous here. The suspension bridge is being replaced, with work occurring over a two year period beginning in mid-2019. While the current bridge can still be used, it may be closed periodically for safety reasons. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)