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Crawford State Park - Gardner Cave

Eastern Washington

Location

Eastern Washington -- Selkirk Range
View map below

Length

1.0 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 200 ft.
Highest Point: 2700 ft.

Rating

5.00 out of 5

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Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Discover Pass
 
 

Descend 90 feet beneath the surface on a guided tour of the third-longest limestone cave in Washington.

In 1899, homesteader Ed Gardner’s horse stumbled into the sinkhole that now marks the entrance to his namesake cave. Legend has it that Gardner used the cave as his base for a bootlegging business, until a streak of bad luck at poker resulted in the loss of his deed to William Crawford, who ultimately signed the property over to Washington State Parks.

The geologic history of the cave is far older, of course. About 500 million years ago, the site was ocean floor. The shells of dead sea creatures decomposed into an ooze that would eventually become limestone. The uplift of the Selkirk Mountains caused the limestone sediment to fold and crack. Later, as water seeped and dripped into the cavern through the calcium-rich limestone, an array of deposit formations began growing into unique and interesting cave features.

Stalactites, like icicles, cling to the cave roof. Stalagmites build from the cave floor up. Where the two meet, a column is formed. The 7.8-ton Gardner Cave column is the largest in the Pacific Northwest. Human imagination has led to the naming of several other formations: the Frozen Waterfall, Christmas Tree (dated to 90,000 years), Roast Turkey, Lopsided Wedding Cake, Queen’s Throne and the Frog.


Cave Tours: Tours are offered every Thursday through Monday at 10 am, 12 noon, 2 pm and 4 pm, from May through mid-September. Wear a jacket, as the cave is a constant 41 to 43 degrees. Never touch the cave walls, as this causes irreparable damage to calcite growth.

 

Crawford State Park - Gardner Cave

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 48.9946, -117.3705 Open map in new window

Trailhead

Eastern Washington -- Selkirk Range

Washington State Parks

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Getting There

From Spokane, take highway 2 north to SR 211, and turn left. Continue on to SR 20, and turn left again, heading north. At Tiger, SR 20 turns left to Colville, but you should continue heading north on SR 31. Follow signs to Ione, Metaline and Metaline Falls. Once in Metaline, follow highway signs to Crawford State Park.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Discover Pass
 

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Crawford State Park - Gardner Cave

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