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Kootenai Falls, Montana


This past spring, we traveled into western Montana to see Kootenai Falls, located on the Kootenai River between the towns of Libby and Troy.  Here the Kootenai River enters a canyon and drops about 90 feet in a few hundred yards in a series of cascades and rapids.  It is the largest undammed fall in Montana and during spring has a most impressive flow rate.   The waterfall is a sacred site to the Kootenai tribe.

Kootenai Falls is about three quarters of a mile from a spacious roadside parking area.  There are picnic tables at the trailhead, as well as some educational signage, like one informing people that the river is home to sturgeon.

07 Kootenai Falls

The walk to the waterfall is quite pretty.  One of the unique things about it is that you cross over train tracks on an elevated pedestrian bridge, shown below.

01 Kootenai Falls(Pedestrian bridge over the train tracks)

You can hear the roar of the waterfall at some distance, and it does not disappoint when you see it.   The river here is broad, and the water was moving quickly.

02 Kootenai Falls

03 Kootenai Falls

05 Kootenai Falls

06 Kootenai Falls(Kootenai Falls)

The river was at its peak flow rate, which is over 100,000 cubic feet/sec (about 3 million liters/second)!  That's a lot of water passing by!  The videoclip below gives you a feel for the power of the water as it moves past you.

We were caught in a thunderstorm as we were viewing the falls and didn't make it to see one of the highlights of this destination, which is a swinging bridge across the river.   Standing on a steel suspension bridge, getting drenched, when there is thunder and lightning is not a good idea, so we headed back to our car.

A photo of the bridge is shown below.  It is not for the faint of heart, but I've crossed much more dramatic ones in Nepal, so I suspect I'd  be okay with it.

Kootenai_Falls_Swinging_Bridge. Courtesy Wikipedia and Jeff Hitchcock.(Swinging bridge at Kootenai Falls.  Photo courtesy of Wikimedia and Jeff Hitchcock)


Images (8)
  • 00 Kootenai Falls
  • 01 Kootenai Falls
  • 02 Kootenai Falls
  • 03 Kootenai Falls
  • 05 Kootenai Falls
  • 06 Kootenai Falls
  • 07 Kootenai Falls
  • Kootenai_Falls_Swinging_Bridge.  Courtesy Wikipedia and Jeff Hitchcock.

Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie

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