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The two RV Gypsies
went to Kootenai Falls and the Swinging Bridge
US Hwy 2 between Libby and Troy Montana - milepost21
July 10, 2013

Downstream from Libby, the Kootenai River enters a canyon and flows over Kootenai Falls, one of the largest free-flowing waterfalls in the northwest. The falls and surrounding area are considered sacred to the Kootenai Indians whose ancestors inhabited the region.

A forest trail leads from the highway parking lot down to the Swinging Bridge and makes a nice hike that is not too strenuous. Kootenai Falls is the largest undammed falls in the state. It offers an unforgettable and breathtaking view as the Kootenai River loses 300 feet in elevation traveling a few hundred yards down river.

To the Kootenai tribe, the falls is a sacred site. They view it as the center of the world, a place where tribal members can commune with the spiritual forces that give direction to the tribe and to individual members. Archaeological evidence shows the Kootenai had Native American sweat lodges and encampments up and down he river valley from Pipe Creek, (where light clay was found for pipes) to the falls area.

sign to Kootenai Falls and the Swinging Bridge
Welcome to Kootenai Falls Park sign

After walking past a local person making and selling his carvings, the two RV Gypsies took a short hike down to the falls on a sometimes shaded, scenic walk through the pine trees.

carvings
a scenic walk through the pine trees

The two RV Gypsies passed a warning sign about the dangerous water and deaths. Then, from the paved trail, the two RV Gypsies stopped at an overlook where they got a glimpse of the falls. Actually it was just a glimpse of white water through the trees.

A warning sign
a glimpse of white water

Then the two RV Gypsies came to an enclosed pedestrian bridge over double railroad tracks (no it's not the swinging bridge yet) and they crossed over the bridge and went down a staircase of 64 see-through metal grate steps.

an enclosed pedestrian bridge
a staircase of 64 see-through metal grate steps.

Karen Duquette photographed the grid of the stairs under her feet. Then she looked up and photographed people on the staircase above her.

the grid of the stairs
people on the staircase above the two RV Gypsies

Lee Duquette reached the bottom of the stairs and started on the path to the waterfall. After a short walk, the two RV Gypsies came to a split in the trail with a huge sign. Left went to the swing bridge, while right went to the falls. The two RV Gypsies went to the falls first.

the path to the waterfall.

The trail was fairly flat on this part, although there were roots and rocks to be aware of. It was also well-worn, so it was not hard to follow. After a short hike, Lee Duquette got his first look at Kootenai Falls.

Lee Duquette at Kootenai Falls

Below is a great panorama shot of the falls, but in order to really be amazed by the beauty of these falls, you simply must really be there in person. The two RV Gypsies felt really lucky to actually see this. They are blessed to have such a great lifestyle.

panorama of Kootenai Falls

Karen Duquette zoomed in on the left side of the falls, while Lee walked a bit closer to the falls. At this viewpoint, the calm river gathered momentum surging first through China Rapids and then over Kootenai Falls, dropping 90 feet in less than a mile.

close up of the left side of Kootenai Falls
Lee Duquette at Kootenai Falls

This is where the most spectacular view was, but this area was not accessible by a wheelchair or motorized cart.

The two RV Gypsies at Kootenai Falls
The two RV Gypsies at Kootenai Falls

From this lookout point which was just a huge slab of rock, the two RV Gypsies could see more of the Kootenai River.? There were no guard rails, so the two RV Gypsies were careful not to get too close to the edge!? The view of the falls from here was very nice as the waters flowed around the island in the middle of the river. Everyone must exercise caution at waterfalls and be responsible for their own safety.

panorama of Kootenai Falls and the island
panorama of Kootenai Falls and the island
Karen Duquette at Kootenai Falls
Karen Duquette at Kootenai Falls
panorama of Kootenai Falls and Karen Duquette
panorama of Kootenai Falls and Karen Duquette
Kootenai Falls and Karen Duquette
Kootenai Falls
the island at Kootenai Falls
the island at Kootenai Falls

The two RV Gypsies looked down and saw "tiny" people down below on another huge slab of rock and they decided to go down there for more photographs.

Kootenai River
Karen Duquette at Kootenai River

Two RV Gypsies slowly worked their way down the rocky area to the cliff below for a closer look at the Kootenai River.

Kootenai River
Kootenai River
Lee Duquette by Kootenai River
Kootenai Falls
Lee Duquette by Kootenai River
Kootenai River
panorama of Kootenai River and Kootenai Falls
Kootenai River
Kootenai Falls

The two RV Gypsies got a look at the island of trees from a different view.

a look at the island of trees from a different view.
Kootenai River
Kootenai River

Time for the two RV Gypsies to work their way to the Swinging Bridge. This part of the trail was a bit rocky, but it was worth the effort.

A look at The Swinging Bridge

A look at the Swinging Bridge

The two RV Gypsies finally reached the swinging bridge.

A look at the Swinging Bridge

IMPORTANTSign - Only 5 persons on the bridge at one time - and another sign warning that the Kootenai River is dangerous. The two RV Gypsies do read the signs and head the warnings.

Sign - Only 5 persons on the bridge at one time
sign warning that the Kootenai River is dangerous

There were a few stairs leading up to the bridge, then a wooden platform before actually stepping out onto the bridge. Several people took pictures from this point but did not go onto the swinging bridge. So while the two RV Gypsies waited to make sure there were not too many people on the bridge, they also took a few photos of the river.

view from the platform beside the bridge
view from the platform beside the bridge

Lee Duquette on the swinging bridge

Lee Duquette on?the swinging bridge
Lee Duquette on?the swinging bridge

Below: Karen Duquette on the swinging bridge

Karen Duquette on the swinging bridge

The swinging bridge at Kootenai Falls was a breathtaking sight to see. The green trees covering the hillside were in direct contrast with the rough terrain along the water’s edge. The bridge itself reached out high above the emerald green river below. There was a peacefulness there that can only be found in nature (if there aren't too many people around).

The swinging bridge at Kootenai Falls is a breathtaking sight

The two RV Gypsies walked completely across the swinging bridge, down a ladder, and back on the ground again. At this point they decided not to return the way they came (over the swinging bridge) but to try to find a viewpoint of the falls on this side of the river.

Karen Duquette by the swinging bridge
the swinging bridge

The two RV Gypsies took a short walk to look at breathtaking views of the Kootenai River from another angle. Although the falls could not be seen from there and the view was only as far as the island of trees, the view was still spectacular. Nobody else had crossed completely over the bridge. The two RV Gypsies were amazed to have this kind of view all to themselves.

view of the Kootenai River
The two RV Gypsies by the Kootenai River

Again, there was no railing and the cliff dropped off sharply, so the two RV Gypsies were very careful not to get too close to the edge of the cliff.

the Kootenai River
the Kootenai River

history bookNow for a bit about the river itself: The Kootenay River is historically called the Flatbow, a major river in the northern part of the U.S. states of Montana and Idaho and southeastern British Columbia, Canada. It is one of the uppermost major tributaries of the Columbia River, which is the largest North American river that empties into the Pacific Ocean. The Kootenay River runs 485?miles from its origins in the Kootenay Ranges of the Canadian Rockies, exiting British Columbia's East Kootenay region via northwestern Montana and the northernmost Idaho Panhandle to return to Canada in the West Kootenay region, where it ends at the city of Castlegar, British Columbia.

Above quote From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Kootenay River
The Kootenay River
Karen Duquette

The two RV Gypsies crossed back over the swinging bridge. This time Karen Duquette crossed first, while Lee took a couple of photos of her on the bridge.

Karen Duquette on the swinging bridge
Karen Duquette on the swinging bridge

Once Karen Duquette was back on the original side of the bridge, Lee walked across the bridge, and Karen got several photos of him on the bridge.

Lee Duquette on the swinging bridge
Lee Duquette on the swinging bridge
Lee Duquette on the swinging bridge
Lee Duquette on the swinging bridge

The two RV Gypsies made their way back to the wooden staircase and climbed up the 64 steps that they climbed down earlier.

Lee Duquette at the wooden staircase
Lee Duquette at the wooden staircase

As the two RV Gypsies reached the top of the stairs, they heard the horn of a train. Lee Duquette stood at the top of the stairs and photographed the train coming around the corner.

train coming around the corner
train coming around the corner

Karen Duquette was already at the middle of the bridge so she photographed the train through the fence on the bridge.

the train approaching the bridge
the train approaching the bridge

Lee Duquette got a photo of the train just as it was about to go under the bridge. When the two RV Gypsies crossed the bridge the first time, they said to each other how neat it would be if a train came by, and now it was happening.

the train approaching the bridge

Lee Duquette got a really great panorama photo of the train going under the bridge, while Karen Duquette was on the bridge.

panorama photo of the train going under the bridge, while Karen in on the bridge

Then Lee stepped onto the bridge and got some more great photos of the train,.

the train going under the bridge
the train going under the bridge
the train going under the bridge
the train going under the bridge
the train exiting the bridge
the train exiting the bridge

And the final photo as the train slipped around another corner and out of sight.

the train?starts to slip around another corner and out of sight

laughing clipart dudeThe two RV Gypsies went back at the parking lot and decided to get something to eat from the food stand. But the picnic table was already taken by the bears...........................

bear and cub at the picnic table
bear and cub at the picnic table

Below: The worker at the concession stand told the two RV Gypsies to take a good look at a nearby tree to see bear claw marks in it because several weeks ago, a baby cub was in the tree.

bear claw marks in a tree
bear claw marks in a tree
bear claw marks in a tree
bear claw marks in a tree
bear claw marks  in a tree
bear claw marks  in a tree

So on this date, the two RV Gypsies climbed 64 stairs down, then 64 stairs up the pedestrian bridge, and on the swinging bridge they climbed 27 stairs each way for a total of 172 stairs, plus the hike to the falls.

Menu for the two RV Gypsies Adventures in Montana
July 7-8, 2013

You may visit these five (5) sites in any order you choose.
There is also a link to Idaho and waterfalls below.

Wild River Adventures -
white water rafting in rain, thunder, lightning, and HAIL

Kootenai Falls and
a swinging bridge

Oddities outside
Glacier National Park

Mountain Meadow RV Park

Libby "The City of Eagles"

look below

go to the next adventure of the two RV GypsiesAFTER you have seen all five sections above, please continue on to the two RV adventures in Idaho - waterfalls and more