Taking a drive along Lake Kootcanusa Scenic Byway, Montana

Lake Kootcanusa Scenic Byway, Montana

Lake Kootcanusa Scenic Byway, Montana

One of the benefits to living where Boomer and I do is that short distances provide excellent adventures. With my job change I no longer have a lot of vacation time so traveling long distances frequently is pretty much out of the question for the time being. Add on that I started a dog cookie business last year with the bulk of my business being done at farmers’ markets I am one busy girl during the summer.

As my current job does not allow overtime I often get to leave early on Fridays or not have to come in at all as I have already reached my maximum 40 hours for the week. I use that benefit to my advantage the best that I can. I only have a week of vacation now – so I must squeeeeeeeze out every ounce of free time I can!

Lake Kootcanusa Scenic Byway, Montana

Lake Kootcanusa Scenic Byway, Montana

Last summer I had a Friday off from work but had to be back for the Farmers’ Market Saturday morning.  It was a tight turn around but I am never one to waste a day of summer and I decided take Boomer on a quick day trip to Montana. We would stop at some places I had been before, we had been to before and some new places for Boomer.

Lake Kootcanusa Scenic Byway, Montana

Lake Kootcanusa

I had a rough idea of what we would do on our day away, starting with a scenic drive along Lake Kootcanusa. Lake Kootcanusa is a reservoir that spans the United States and Canadian border. The lake is located in both Montana State in the United States and British Columbia in Canada. The name of the lake is slightly odd but breaking it down into parts explains it quite well. The “Koot” stands for the Kootenai River. “Can” stands for Canada and lastly “usa” stands for the United States of America. The river is about 90 miles long with 42 miles (68 km) in Canada and 48 miles (77 km) are in the United States.

The Lake Kootcanusa Scenic Byway is a 67 mile (108 km) drive along the east shore of the Kootenay River. We hopped on the byway near Libby Montana and took Highway 37 north. The byway ends at Eureka Montana, which is about 9 miles from the Canadian border.

Lake Kootcanusa Scenic Byway, Montana

Lake Kootcanusa Scenic Byway, Montana

The byway is a two lane road that snakes along the shoreline giving you generous views of the lake from most of the road along with the Purcell and Salish Mountain Ranges. I know I come from just the next state over, Idaho, but there is something about Montana’s scenery that is better 🙂  Maybe it’s the taller mountains!

Lake Kootcanusa Scenic Byway, Montana

Libby Dam

Another treat along the byway is the Libby Dam. Much to my dismay I was not able to take a tour so I milled around the visitor center picking up a few tidbits about the dam. The dam was completed in 1972, generates enough energy to support 500,000 homes and can withstand a 6.5 earthquake. Not too shabby! I do recommend stopping just before reaching the visitor center for “the shot” of the dam, which I am sure is quite impressive with the spill gates open. Tours are offered during the summer season at 10am, Noon, 2 and 4pm. The visitor center is located about 16 miles north of Libby Montana off of Forest Service Road #228.

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