Metaline Falls, WA

Exploring the Majestic Landscape of Metaline Falls and Gardener Caves

Lefty Graves
Aerial View Of Metaline FallsPhoto byBy Ruthven78 at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

Metaline Falls, Washington

Metaline Falls, Washington, is a small town located in Pend Oreille County, Washington. Located about four miles east of Ione, Washington, along the Pend Oreille River, the population was 360 at the 2010 census. If you like small mountain towns, this may fit the bill for what you’re looking for. Part of the North Pend Oreille Scenic Byway, the Selkirk Loop tours you through Idaho, Canada, and back down into Washington State’s Metaline Falls.

It was founded in 1880 and platted in 1887 by James Metaline, who named the town after his wife, Mary Ann Metaline. Metaline Falls is mainly divided into two distinct sections: the old town and the new town.

The old town of Metaline Falls lies between the Pend Oreille River and the railroad tracks; the new town is situated between the railroad tracks and US Highway 2. The Pend Oreille River divides the two sections, and a local bridge spans the river and connects the two sides.

Home to big game and plenty of history

Home to one of the largest diversities of big game animals found in the lower 48 states, the area also abounds with many buildings on the National Historic Register, such as the Historic Washington Hotel and the Cutter Theater, a nationally recognized Center for the Arts in Metaline Falls.

Recognized as one of the 100 Best Small Arts Towns in America, it’s also home to many events, including Affair on Main Street, which is an Arts Festival on Labor Day Weekend. It’s also home to Deck The Falls Winter Festival which is held the first weekend in December.

Tour an old baggage car that serves as a visitors center in the park. Complete with historic photos, you’re sure to enjoy the visit. The Mill Pond Historic Interpretive Site is just north of the town on Sullivan Lake Road. If you continue north on Sullivan Lake Road, you’ll gain access to 3 campgrounds run by the Sullivan Lake Ranger District. You can visit here and pick up information on hiking areas and campsites.

Metaline Falls has been in the movies

The movie, The Postman, starring Kevin Costner, was filmed partially in Metaline Falls. Don’t worry, they didn’t let it go to their heads, and they’ve successfully maintained their integrity. However, residents will definitely recognize the terrain as they watch the movie. What a beautiful backdrop for movie filming.

Gardener Caves Metaline Falls, Washington

Another great feature of Metaline Falls is Gardener Cave. You will require reservations for this visit as it’s a guided tour. Gardener Cave is the second largest limestone cave in Washington State. Visitors will enjoy the natural cave formation filled with a myriad of formations that include stalactites and stalagmites, as well as flowstone.

For those unfamiliar with Flowstone, it forms in caves when minerals like calcium-carbonate accumulate as the water trickles down through the cracks and fissures in caves forming smooth flow sheets and sometimes chaotic asymmetrical shapes.

Gardener Cave is approximately 8400 square feet with three unique rooms. Spelunkers, hikers, and outdoor enthusiasts have plenty of opportunities in the region for hiking and discovering fascinating features. Gardener Cave has a deep pit, an area with a false floor, and many speleothems to view. Steeped in mining history, it dates back to the early 1900s.

I recently had the opportunity to explore the breathtaking Metaline Falls Gardener Caves. The landscape was truly majestic and left me in awe. Metaline Falls is one of the few areas of the United States where you can step right into Canada; however, there are signs warning that you’re under video surveillance.

© Lefty Graves. 2023 All Rights Reserved.

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Lefty has been writing online since 2000 on various topics, including youth mentoring, addiction recovery, parenting, gardening, advocating for seniors, sustainability, farming, and an eclectic mix of other topics. She writes about all things Washington. She resides on a farm with her family in Northeastern Washington State.

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