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10:46 PM

Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge

Nestled at the foot of the Selkirk Mountains just six miles east of Bonners Ferry, the 2,774-acre Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge provides diverse habitats for a large variety of wildlife including moose, elk, deer, bear, otter, bald eagles, and migratory waterfowl such as mallards, northern pintail, and teal.

And its provides excellent access to this wealth of wildlife, with a visitor center, 4.5-mile auto tour route and four fine hiking trails.

Established in 1964 as a migratory waterfowl refuge, during seasonal migrations the refuge provides respite for tens of thousands of waterfowl. It provides habitat for more than 220 species of birds, 45 species of mammals, and 22 species of fish.

Wetlands include open-water ponds, seasonal cattail-bulrush marshes, tree-lined ponds and rushing creeks; the refuge also has meadows, riparian forests and cultivated agricultural fields (for producing valuable wildlife food crops), interspersed in the valley bottom adjacent to the west banks of the Kootenai River.

More information:
Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge website
Friends of the Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge

1:12 AM

Kootenai River

One of the largest rivers in the state, the Kootenai River flows into Idaho’s northern tip from Montana, through Bonners Ferry and then exits the state on our northern border with Canada. Idaho’s 66 river miles consist of a wide, slow-moving 47-mile section from Porthill to Bonners Ferry and 19 canyon miles upstream from Bonners Ferry to Montana. Anglers can find rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, bull trout, brook trout and mountain whitefish. About 20 miles east into Montana is the Kootenai Falls, one of the largest undammed waterfalls in the Northwest.

Parks, beaches and trails: The Kootenai is relatively inaccessible – making it a delightful destination for anglers or boaters who want to get off the beaten path. In Bonners Ferry there are public boat docks and a boat ramp. Just a few miles downstream from the town is the Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge, with an auto tour route and paths in the refuge alongside the river. In the town of Moyie Springs, 8 miles upstream, is the best river access at the Twin Rivers Resort, located at the confluence with the Moyie River and now operated by the Kootenai Tribe with a new and ambitious sturgeon and burbot fishery. The resort offers camping, picnicking, swimming and just lounging.

Boating: The river is navigable by motorboats along its length in Idaho. Downstream of Bonners Ferry the river meanders through the Kootenai Valley; most of the boating action is upstream in the scenic canyon. Rafters, canoeists and kayakers like this stretch; there’s no whitewater but advanced skills are advisable because the water is swift. River levels are controlled by the Libby Dam upstream in Montana, so boaters should be alert that river levels can rise or lower quickly.

Wildlife: The river canyon provides a year round home to white tail deer with frequent visits by mule deer, elk, and moose. The Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge is a splendid destination for wildlife lovers, where literally thousands of migratory water fowl can be spotted in season as well as upland game birds, hundreds of song birds and other wildlife.

Fishing: The Kootenai is notable for two fisheries of rare species, the white sturgeon and native Kootenai River burbot. The Kootenai Tribe has built a newly opened hatcher at Twin Rivers in the effort to restore these rare fish. For game fishermen, though the river provides good cutthroat and rainbow trout fishing as well as mountain whitefish and other species.

More information
Activities and info: Bonners Ferry Chamber
Parks: Twin Rivers Resort
Fishing: Idaho Fish and Game recommended fishing

2:33 AM

Hike to Myrtle Peak

One of the most popular forest driving loops outside of Bonners Ferry is the Myrtle Peak-to-Snow Creek drive. And along the way, the hike to Myrtle Peak makes an excellent 4-5 hour excursion for adventurous backcountry travelers.

The 3-mile hike to the peak climbs through open forest and rocky meadows with views of Harrison Peak and the Two Mouth Lakes basin to the south. Where the trail finally breaks over the top, a short spur trail of just 100 fee for so leads to the summit of Myrtle Peak and the remains of an old lookout that once sat there. The views in all direction are terrific, particularly to the northeast of the huge granite ridge that comprises The Lions Head. To its north you can see the very beginning of Long Canyon, the last major unloaded drainage in the Selkirk Mountains. To extend the hike you can cross the peak and head down to Myrtle Lake, which you’ll see below to the north. It’s another 1.5 miles with about 1000 feet of descent; there’s a good population of cutthroat trout in the lake.

Details: 3 miles to peak, 6 miles round trip. Moderately strenuous.
Directions: From Bonners Ferry, head east to the Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge, then 1.3 miles north on the Westside Road to Myrtle Creek Road No. 633. Follow that about 10 miles to turn right onto Road No. 2406; trailhead is 3 miles up. Note: This is a rough road that requires a high-clearance vehicle.

More information
Trailhead and trail map