September 7, 2023
For those wishing to venture off the beaten path and explore millions of acres of breathtaking wilderness, Kootenai National Forest is a must-see destination. This is the ideal place to escape the crowds and enjoy some solitude in the great outdoors.
Located along the Canadian border in the Northwest corner of Montana and the Northeast corner of Idaho, this 2.2 million-acre forest offers endless opportunities for recreation, adventure, and relaxation. Kootenai boasts multiple mountain ranges, stunning river valleys, alpine meadows, beautiful forests, and hundreds of lakes. Two main rivers snake through the forest – the Kootenai and Clark Fork – as well as many smaller rivers and tributaries.
The Cabinet Mountains Wilderness is a unique area that offers visitors more than 90,000 acres to explore. Elevations change rapidly here with Snowshoe Peak being the highest point in the Cabinet Mountains at 8,738 feet. There are 94 miles of trails surrounded by cedar groves, rocky peaks, alpine lakes, and clear, rushing streams. This diverse area is home to a variety of wildlife including pika, mountain goat, wolverines, deer, moose, and black bear.
The Ten Lakes Scenic Area is located on the northeastern edge of the Kootenai National Forest. Made up of nearly 15,000 rugged acres, this scenic area features beautiful alpine lakes, lush forests, great mountain views, and spectacular wildflower shows in the spring and summer. Popular areas include Bluebird Basin and Therriault Lakes, and there are 89 miles of trails most often used for hiking and horseback riding.
The Kootenai River is quickly growing in popularity for its excellent trout fishing. Rainbow trout are common here and it’s not unusual to catch fish in the 12-16” range. If you need help getting started, there are numerous guides in the area.
Kootenai Falls is located between the towns of Troy and Libby. The trailhead can be found on Highway 2 and a short hike brings you to a gorgeous view of the falls on the Kootenai River. You can cross the river on a swinging bridge, snap some photos, or just hang out and take in the awesome views.
Camping in the Kootenai National Forest
Kootenai River Campground is located just two miles west of Troy, Montana. The campground is nestled along the Kootenai River and offers cabins, RV sites, and tent sites. Campers have access to newly remodeled restrooms and showers, fire rings, picnic tables, water, free Wifi, and laundry. This scenic park is the perfect place to relax after a day of exploring the forest!