Libby Folks Float the Kootenai with a Little Help from MonTECH and Missoula Parks & Rec

A group of smiling people in llife jackets give rock-on hand gestures while floating down a slow river in a raft. Some have developmental disabilities. Two are wearing life jackets in patriotic stars and stripes.


Adaptive recreation equipment makes it possible for Montanans with disabilities to float the gorgeous Kootenai River in northwestern Montana.

Libby lies south of Lake Koocanusa in the midst of the Kootenai National Forest. It is breathtakingly beautiful country and Stephanie Munts wants her clients to experience it first-hand.

Stephanie is Day Service Assistant Manager for Achievements, Inc., a nonprofit providing care for adults with developmental and physical disabilities. For the past two years, she and her team have taken clients on camping and float trips.

Why is this a priority? “It gives them a chance to see more than just the inside of a building or the streets of their town,” she says. “There’s more to the world, and they get to see and experience that.”

Still, helping multiple clients with different needs successfully float a river for four hours and then camp overnight? That takes meticulous planning – and equipment.

Several people work to carefully help a man using a wheelchair ride up MonTECH's portable ramp from the dock to the raft.
Using MonTECH’s portable ramp to transport a client safely from dock to hard-bottomed raft.

That’s where MonTECH and Missoula Parks & Rec come in. Stephanie borrowed MonTECH’s wheelchair-accessible raft and a ramp. Tyler Decker of Missoula Parks & Rec arranged for his team to transport the rafts and man the float, charging only for travel and staff wages.

Man in wheelchair floats safely down the river with his chair tied down to the floor of the hard-bottomed raft. Others ride the raft with him.
Safely secured on the raft and floating peacefully down the beautiful Kootenai River.

The ramp was crucial for getting wheelchair users from the shore onto the dock. “When you pick these guys up, they’re not able to help,” Stephanie explains. “Some have contractures that make them stiff and unable to bend. And all that makes moving them very difficult. Being able to get them as close as possible to where you’re trying to transfer them makes a huge difference.”

Stephanie and the team were able to get all clients using wheelchairs who wanted to float onto the raft. “It was huge,” she remembers. “It made their summer.”

This year’s campout marked the second time Achievements, Inc. has taken clients on a four-hour float on the Kootenai River, followed by cabin camping. Is the work worth it? Oh yes. “They’re not in the car watching the world go by,” Stephanie says.  “They’re in it. To see them roasting marshmallows, playing cornhole, fishing – their eyes light up and they’re just so happy.”

[For information about adaptive recreation equipment available to borrow from MonTECH, call (406) 243-5511 or email]