This week I thought I'd take a look at Moyie Falls, just east of Bonners Ferry and the area checked out the week before. I've seen this falls from afar, most recently in 2007 when my brother and his wife visited and I gave them the grand tour of where our dad took me and mom while we searched out places to fish (see this post). Actually, now that I look at the photo on that post which I've added above, I guess we couldn't actually see the falls, but just the dam above them holding back some water (center right). Maybe I'm just remembering other people's photos. At any rate, I know I've never been to the spot where you can see them close up. So after doing my usual research to obtain decent directions and scoping out what else I might look at nearby, off I went.
I should have heeded more closely what others were saying online about this falls. That spring was the best time to view it (of course - ALL falls are more spectacular with spring runoff swelling the rivers), that the dam controlled how much water went over the falls (of course - true of any dam but surely there will be SOMETHING running over them). But no. I had arrived in the middle of the week, near the end of summer, and this sign near the parking area tells the story. Well, I've driven the 40 or so miles here, so I'm going to go take a look anyway.
Backing up a bit, the Moyie River starts its life in Canada. In fact, Copper Creek empties into it not far below Its falls which was my first chasing waterfalls road trip. And here at the falls it is near the end of its life as it will shortly empty into the Kootenai River. On Wikipedia, the falls are describe as "an 85 foot (26 m) waterfall on the Moyie River. Crashing through a rocky canyon, the Moyie River descends in tiered form. While the upper portion plummets 60 to 100 feet under an obsolete bridge connecting the gorge, the lower portion tumbles 20 to 40 feet." (The obsolete bridge has since been removed.) Now doesn't that sound worth seeking out? So I wound my way through the little town of Moyie Springs and down a steep road to the parking area.
That bridge over the gorge is really something, especially when you are passing right under it, hearing the cars and trucks overhead.
And viewing it from below. It's the 2nd highest bridge in Idaho.
But it's the falls I'm after, so I park and start the trudge back up the road to a couple of viewing spots. And right away, as I peek over the edge of the road, I can see how very far down the river is and what a steep drop-off it is. And there's water, so maybe some waterfall to see.
Nope. This is supposed to be the upper falls. As near as I can tell, that rockface is where the water must come down to create the falls. In fact if you click on this picture and zoom in on that spot above the branches in the middle, you should be able to see a pool of water.
Here, I've done it for you, see even better if you click on it.
And on the adjacent rock face, the ubiquitous mosses and lichens.
Hope springs eternal for determined people like me, so I continue my trudge up the road to get a look at the lower falls. There's a pool of water, and the creek running off in the distance but...
Yeah, nothing happening there either. But I can envision that water plummeting down at an angle across this rockface to the pool below. If you click on the picture and zoom in to the spot just up and left of center, you can see an area that looks a bit like riverbed before the plunge.
One more look down the gorge and at the massive bridge before heading back to the car.
As long as I was there, I did drive on up the road a bit, to take a look at this dam (no water going over it either) and a small day use area along the bit of backed up river. But basically, not much else to see. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed.
That being said, I still had a couple of roads I wanted to drive up. I'd stopped off at the information center in Bonners Ferry to get some better maps and ended up having a very informative chat with the lady there who had personal experience on the roads in question and stuffed a bunch of hiking pamphlets in my hand. I put in about 125 miles in all on this day, about 80 driving up and back, and the rest poking around for several hours up a couple of roads of various improvement. I was surprised at how many houses were up these roads on either side of the Moyie River (but seldom in sight of it) and that there was even some farming and ranching going on. Couldn't resist capturing this dilapidated barn which surely can't withstand many more winters. This particular road eventually wound up quite high, leaving me doing my usual gawking at the mountains still far above me and the view down through narrow valleys. It reminded me of how my dad loved to go on the old logging and forest service roads, me nose pressed up against the passenger-side window taking in the variety of trees and tremendous views.
The other road I explored was paved for quite a long way, passed close by a small lake (no sign, no turnout and frankly, unimpressive compared to my Pend Oreille Lake), more houses and farmlands and even a development called Meadow Creek Estates, and eventually crossed the Moyie River several times. I was going to go as far as a camp ground near where the road crossed the river but I totally missed the sign. The road also followed and crossed over train tracks numerous times, and since I'd had so little to take pictures of, I stopped to take one of this train bridge which is probably quite old and that I was quite taken with for some reason. This road also continues north nearly to the turnoff to Copper Falls, and I certainly didn't want to end up back there this late in the day, so even though I hadn't found that campground, I soon turned around and back towards the highway. At which point I spotted the sign at the first crossing of the river. Of course. I'd been that kind of day. I did drive down into the campground - big and shady and really nice, the sort of one my dad would have given a thumbs up to had we come upon it on a fishing trip - and wouldn't you know it, there were signs for two hiking trails which seemed to start from the day use area, one to an overlook and one along the river. Well, way to late to be hiking now; have filed all this information away for a return trip at a better time of year.
So this week's road trip felt like a bust, a failed search for waterfalls, no real hiking, a lot of driving just to look at a lot of trees, a lot of rocks, and a little water. I'll do better next week. I'm being guaranteed that the river in question and its falls will be flowing with a "surprising amount of water".