The Koocanusa Area is primarily centered along a narrow 90 mile long Koocanusa Reservoir, formed by Libby Dam. Approximately 60 miles are within the United States. Libby Dam is operated by the US Army Corps of Engineers which provides daily dam tours. Koocanusa Reservoir is the major recreation attraction in this geographic area, providing ideal settings for large watercraft and sailing. The reservoir contains a large and stable population of Kookanee salmon, Kamloops (rainbow) trout, bull trout, West slope cutthroat trout and burbot. Fishing has been reported to be fantastic. There are a number of large developed recreation complexes along the reservoir shoreline including: Rexford Bench, McGillivray, Peck Gulch, and Rocky Gorge. Campgrounds, picnic areas, swimming beaches, boat ramps, as well as day use areas comprise many of the facilities within these developed sites. In addition there are two marina complexes located on the reservoir, one on the southern end, at Cripple Horse, while the northern portion of the reservoir has Mariners Haven Resort near the Town of Rexford. There are also a number of private RV parks, restaurants, and stores near the marinas or within the surrounding communities of West Kootenai, Rexford, Eureka and Libby. Two paved highways running adjacent to the reservoir and extending from Eureka to Libby have been designated by the State of Montana as a Scenic Byway. Traffic is light and views along the roadways are memorable, including glimpses of the Ural-Tweed Big Horn Sheep herd, located on the eastern side of the reservoir along Hwy 37,
Various mountain ranges create the geographic setting; Purcell Mountains located west of Koocanusa Reservoir while the Salish Mountains are located on the eastern side. The Koocanusa Area is the perfect setting for year round recreational attractions, including: fishing, water sports, rock and ice climbing, and driving for pleasure, especially during the fall Western Larch color change.
Stone Hill climbing area is also located adjacent to Hwy 37 just south of Koocanusa Bridge. The climbing area offers in excess of 70 established climbing routes. Many climbers use the site as an opportunity to hone their climbing skills or to introduce new climbers to the sport. Koocanusa Bridge located at Mile Post 53, approximately 6 miles south of the Town of Rexford. It is the longest and highest bridge in Montana. The bridge connects Hwy 37 to the Western side of the reservoir and recreational opportunities such as road access to the Yaak River valley, the community of West Kootenai, and numerous hiking trails and fishing creeks. Located on the western side is a former fire lookout cabin that is now available for the public to rent.
The Koocanusa Area is the perfect setting for a large-water based recreation vacation.
The Libby Area has the Kootenai River from Libby Dam to Troy running through the heart of it. The Kootenai River is identified as a “blue ribbon trout stream”. The Purcell Range is located north of the River and features numerous peaks at 6000’ elevation. Turner Mountain Ski Area is located 22 miles north of Libby, providing 2200’ of vertical and 1000 acres of terrain for alpine skiing. The Cabinet Mountains are located south of the River with many peaks at 7500’ elevation. Snowshoe Peak at 8738’ is the tallest peak on the Kootenai National Forest. The Cabinet Mountains Wilderness located in this area provides visitors with self challenge, spiritual renewal, solitude, alpine scenery, and the opportunity to view unique wildlife (grizzly bear, mountain goat, wolverine, Canadian lynx, and peregrine falcons) and wildflowers. Over 132 species of wildflowers have been found in the Wilderness. Access into the Wilderness is by one of many non-motorized hiking trails. Kootenai Falls located 10 miles downstream of Libby is the last undammed falls on the Kootenai River. Located adjacent to US Highway 2, it is the most highly viewed scenic attraction on the Forest. Libby Dam located 17 miles upstream from Libby, forms 90 mile long Lake Koocanusa. More than 400 miles of summer use trail are open and available in the Libby Area. Over 60 miles of snowmobile trail and 15 miles of X-C ski are regularly groomed from December through March. Four developed campgrounds provide facilities for camping and picnicking. The Libby Area provides the nation’s first lookout tower available for public rental at Big Creek Baldy Mountain.