For the Kootenai tribe, Kootenai Falls is a sacred location. It is perceived as the center of the world, a place where the tribe’s members can connect with the spiritual forces that guide their lives both individually and collectively.
Kootenai Falls is also where the majority of the 1994 movie River Wild, starring Meryl Streep and Kevin Bacon, was filmed.
Kootenai Falls is the largest undammed waterfall in the state of Montana and one of the few major waterfalls in the Northwest that has not been harnessed for electrical power. It is the result of the Kootenai River losing 300 feet in elevation over several hundred yards, and is spectacular in its magnitude and its vibrant turquoise-blue color.
Daring visitors can cross the river via the Kootenai Falls Swinging Bridge, which is an attraction in itself. It hangs at an elevation of 100 feet and allows you to observe the 30-foot main waterfall in all of its glory, while also offering an unbeatable view of the nearby Cabinet Mountain Wilderness.
While you’re in the area, make sure to explore the Kootenai Falls Wildlife Management Area, which stretches for three miles along the river and provides unparalleled opportunities to see a vast variety of wildlife such as bighorn sheep, mule deer, white-tailed deer, black bears, moose, game birds, and bald eagles. The river also offers three miles of walk-in fishing.
How to get there: Kootenai Falls is located along U.S. Highway 2 at milepost 21 between Libby and Troy. To access the falls, follow the path from the parking lot next to the highway. At the trailhead, there is a picnic area, barbecues, restrooms, and interpretive trail signs. For more information, visit www.libbymt.com/areaattractions/kootenaifalls.htm or call (406) 752-5501.