- 67 miles (107 km)
- Allow 2 hours.
- Forest service site fees at select campgrounds.
In the very northwest corner of Montana and into British Columbia lies the 93-mile long Lake Koocanusa in the state's famous Kootenai National Forest. Created for travelers, Lake Koocanusa Scenic Byway provides easy access to a variety of recreation, nature appreciation, and sightseeing opportunities along its 67 miles. From boating and fishing on the lake to camping and hiking in the forests, Lake Koocanusa Scenic Byway provides something for every outdoor lover.
If you're just looking for a pleasant afternoon drive, look no further. As you travel between the towns of Libby and Eureka in a loop around the famous reservoir, enjoy mountain views of deep forests and steep cliffs in addition to the scenic lake. Watch for wildlife along the route, including the Bighorn Sheep that enjoy the steep cliffs habitat within the narrow gorge surrounding Lake Koocanusa. During warmer months, extend your trip by taking an alternate side route along the lake's western shore. Though closed in the winter, the unpaved path makes for a slightly more adventurous and solitary experience for the remainder of the year.
If you plan on spending a few days in the area, a multitude of activities exist for the outdoor adventurer. On land, options range from relaxing hikes and developed campgrounds to epic bike rides and backpacking trips through the forest and roadside rock climbing at Stone Hill. For water fun, both paved and primitive boat launches abound along the route, providing opportunities for water skiers and canoe riders alike. The lake is one of the best land-locked salmon fishing spots around, and Kootenai River teems with trophy rainbow trout.
For folks who love northwestern mountain culture but would rather spend their time in town than out, the gateway towns of Libby and Eureka brim with history, local art shops, a ski resort and a golf course. As you stroll among the local businesses, enjoy the natives' friendliness and hospitality.
Whether you spend your nights in a bed and breakfast and your days on small-town main streets or sleep under the stars and cook breakfast with a backpacking stove, Lake Koocanusa Scenic Byway offers all the scenery and diversion your western public lands have to offer.
Points of Interest Along The Way
Flathead National Forest (MT)
The 2.3 million-acre Flathead National Forest stretches along the west side of the continental divide from the US-Canadian border south approximately 120 miles. The landscape is built from block fault mountain ranges sculpted by glaciers.
Take U.S. Hwy 93 south from Eureka.
Kootenai National Forest (MT)
Kootenai National Forest features over 2 million acres of preserved land and a milder climate than most of Montana.