Lake Koocanusa - a great scenic drive
224 to 235 miles
For unsurpassed mountain beauty and outstanding wildlife watching opportunities, Lake Koocanusa can't be beat. The reservoir is ninety miles long with forty-two miles in Canada and forty-eight in the US. The Kootenai National Forest surrounds Koocanusa's American portion allowing virtually no commercial development along the shores and keeping the excellent two lane highways around the lake peaceful with very little traffic.
In 1989 the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks named the Libby Dam area as an Official Watchable Wildlife Area. Here a person might see deer, coyote, river otters, moose, raccoons, bald eagles, great blue herons, geese, ducks, trumpeter swans, osprey, hawks, songbirds, or sea gulls.
The lake is home to a variety of fish including: rainbow trout, west slope cutthroat trout, brook trout, kokanee salmon (blue back), ling (burbot), whitefish and kamloops (a strain of rainbow trout).
The US Corps of Engineers formed Lake Koocanusa with the completion of the Libby Dam in 1975. The name "Koocanusa" was the winning entry of a lake naming contest and was synthesized from the first three letters of the Kootenai River whose waters formed the lake, "can" for Canada, and "usa" for the United States.
There are three routes available for travellers wanting to visit and enjoy Lake Koocanusa. The first circles the lake. The second travels down the east shore and then cuts northeast through the mountains, while the third returns to Whitefish via US Highway 2. All three routes begin at the Whitefish KOA Kampground. Don’t forget to start the day with your free hot breakfast at Buffalo Bob's, and while you're at it you might want to purchase a lunch to take with you into the wilderness.
Your route for the trip: