Where is the Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge?
Now and then I like to take a country drive, truly country, and just get away from it all. Don’t you? When I lived in Seattle, early in my marriage, finding such a country drive was a real challenge. We had to go a long ways, but here in North Idaho, the Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge is just out our back door.
The Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge is just east of Bonners Ferry
With the passing of the end of summer and the advance of fall, I just had to get out for one more scenic hike on a blue sky day. I chose a private property I know about and hiked by myself up a quiet grass-covered road to the view above. I stood on a ridge overlooking Chase Creek and pondered the glacial valley through which the Kootenai River flows as it turns north to rendezvous with the Columbia River near Kettle Falls.
Why is there a Wildlife Refuge?
The Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge is there for three reasons. It provides a sanctuary for waterfowl and wetlands habitat for big game such as moose, whitetail deer and elk. The third reason is YOU…so you can enjoy these animals and birds in their native habitat without disturbing them.
The elk are in the high country right now. But they will soon come down as hunters put pressure on them. They’ll actually bed down in the Wildlife Refuge at times. If you look closely in the moonlight with light-gathering binoculars you might see large bunches of them grazing in the fields of the Refuge.
I flushed one elk right at the top of my mile and a half hike, from where I parked my SUV on the Myrtle Creek Road. The fleeting animal saw me first and took off, but I caught a glimpse of its lanky hindquarters and ivory-colored rump as it bolted from site, silently into the heavy brush above me. Native Americans called them Wapiti, which means ghost of the woods. As large as they are, when they want to run quietly, you won’t hear them. But they hear every step you take.
In what ways can you enjoy this refuge?
Right against the mountain on the West Side Road, you will find an entry point to the refuge. It’s that part of the sign that says “You Are Here.” You can bike it, walk it, jog it, and boat parts of it. It’s there for you to enjoy…but sorry, no motor vehicles because it is a sanctuary for the birds and animals that reside there.
It also makes for an excellent photographic outing if you have a long lens and a tripod.
So exactly where is the Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge?
I hope I’ve inspired a Sunday drive or two, or perhaps a weekend get-away. Truly the Kootenai River National Wildlife Refuge is an Idaho road trip worth taking.
Dwayne Parsons, the owner/editor of SandpointPR,
is also a Realtor with
208-290-2300 Dwayne’s mobile phone