If all the time at home during the pandemic has really awakened the inner explorer in you, then you’re going to want to keep reading. Because it turns out that there’s a fully illuminated cave system that you can explore right here in Washington. And best of all, it’s free!

The cave system in question is Gardener Cave which is located within Crawford State Park in Metaline Falls, Washington. It also happens to be the third-longest limestone cavern in Washington at just over 2,000 feet. Meaning you can walk among stalactites, stalagmites, rimstone pools, and flowstone that were 500 million years in the making. Pretty dang cool right?

gardener cave

Photo via Washington State Parks Foundation

A long metal staircase and series of platforms guide you safely along the cave pathways with lights illuminating the unique formations. You’ll want to keep your eyes peeled because trust us, these rocks are anything but ordinary.

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gardener cave


Photo via Washington State Parks Foundation

In fact, the unique formations that you see in the caves were actually created by dead sea creatures decomposing over time which created an ooze that eventually became limestone. Among these formations is the caves 7.8-ton column which happens to be the largest in the Pacific Northwest. And if you really want to get a closer look be sure to bring a flashlight with you when you visit. But be sure not to touch the formations.

gardener cave

Photo via Washington State Parks Foundation

Now we know you’re probably already packing your bag to give Gardner Cave a visit. But hold your horses because the cave reopens in May and if you want one of the parks free tours you have to schedule ahead of time. Don’t worry you can find all those details by clicking below. And if you do decide to go, be sure to bring layers because the cave is around 39 to 42 degrees Fahrenheit.

Gardener Cave

When: May-September, Cave tours daily 10 am, 12 pm, 2 pm, and 4 pm
Where: Crawford State Park Heritage Site, 10381 Boundary Road, Metaline Falls, WA 99152
Cost: Park entrance $10 Discovery Pass, Tours are free