Check out the Kootenai Falls Swinging Bridge if you want an adrenaline rush while visiting northwest Montana. This suspension bridge is a popular attraction thanks to its thrilling and slightly nerve-wracking swinging motion.
If you feel brave, make your way across the bridge and take in the stunning views of the falls below and the surrounding mountains. Just make sure to hold on tight.
What Is a Swinging Bridge?
Swinging bridges, also known as hanging or suspension bridges, are suspended from cables attached to towers on either side. The bridge’s weight and the pedestrians crossing it create tension in the cables, causing the bridge to swing slightly. This can cause a bit of apprehension in anyone, but if built correctly, a swinging bridge is safe.
You’ll typically find swinging bridges where it would be difficult or impossible to build a traditional bridge, such as over a river with a strong current. They can also help access remote areas, such as hiking trails in mountainous terrain.
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How Do You Get to the Kootenai Falls Swinging Bridge in Montana?
You can get to the Kootenai Falls Swinging Bridge in Montana in a few different ways. It’s located near mile marker 21, just off U.S. Highway 2 between the towns of Troy and Libby, Mont. It is about 100 miles northwest of Kalispell, Mont., and 140 miles northeast of Spokane, Wash.
The bridge has a large parking lot along U.S. Highway 2. At first glance, it may look like a pullout, but it is designated parking for visiting this Montana swinging bridge.
How Long Is the Hike at Kootenai Falls to Swinging Bridge?
Once you park, walk about half a mile to get to the bridge. The walk is easy, and the trail has plenty of places to stop and take in the scenery.
The first portion of the trail is paved. After about an eighth of a mile, you will reach a fork with a big sign noting a viewing area to the right and the swinging bridge to the left.
The trail to the left is about a quarter-mile walk to the bridge. This section has uneven terrain and crosses through a covered tunnel over an active train track.
When you reach the bridge, you may see why it is such a popular spot. It has incredible views, and it is worth the effort to get there.
How High Is the Swinging Bridge in Montana?
The Kootenai Falls Swinging Bridge is just over 200 feet long and about 100 feet above the river. Jumping off the bridge is strictly forbidden. The rapid river below has deep currents and waterfalls.
Can You Swim in Kootenai Falls?
Yes, you can swim at the Kootenai Falls. A couple of areas have good swimming spots. One you access by crossing the swinging bridge. Once across, you’ll come by a small beach or shoreline area suitable for swimming.
Back where the trail first forked, you’ll see a sign pointing right to the Kootenai Falls scenic overlook. This area also has a good swimming spot. Just follow the short trail to the natural pools that form near the falls.
The river itself is not swimmable. To cross the Kootenai River, you must use the swinging bridge. And be cautious near the falls, which can be dangerous if you get into the rapids with deep currents.
Why Are the Kootenai Falls Popular?
The Kootenai Falls are one of the most popular tourist destinations in Montana. The falls flow down a beautiful cascade of rocks on the Kootenai River.
You can access them via a nerve-wracking, hidden swinging bridge, which is one of the most popular features of the falls. It offers visitors stunning views of the river and the surrounding mountains.
It’s also a popular spot for kayakers and rafters, as the river provides some of the best whitewater in Montana. You can also hike, swim, fish, and enjoy the wilderness.
How Big Is the Kootenai National Forest?
The Kootenai National Forest covers a total of 2.2 million acres. That means it’s about the size of the state of Rhode Island.
The forest has three sections: the Cabinet Mountains in the north, the Kaniksu National Forest in the south, and the Idaho Panhandle National Forests in between.
The Kootenai National Forest has nearly 1,000 miles of hiking trails, making it a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. This includes the famous swinging bridge in Montana.
Is the Swinging Bridge in Montana Worth Visiting?
The swinging bridge in Montana at the Kootenai Falls is worth a visit. It has ample parking, easy access via the hiking trail, and is free. That’s a combination that doesn’t come along all too often.
Then once you get to the swinging bridge, it opens up to stunning views of the Kootenai Falls and the surrounding mountain vistas.
It’s also a cheap thrill ride. Though the bridge is safe to cross, it sways to and fro, making it a more exhilarating journey. However, even the faint of heart can conquer this passage. If you do, the views from the other side are breathtaking.
So next time you visit northwest Montana, don’t forget to check out this hidden gem in one of the more remote areas of Montana.
Have you ever been on a swinging bridge?