Image: Ryan Inzana

Metaline Falls, 6.75 hours from Seattle | Short Trail, Cave Tours

The state’s very upper right corner hides an adventure serial masquerading as a state park. The tale begins around 1900, when a bootlegger literally stumbled into current-day Crawford State Park’s central attraction, Gardner Cave, while hiding illegal booze. Years later, legend says, the bootlegger lost the whole parcel in a card game.

Once the lands were deeded to the state, the 2,000-foot limestone cavern became a graffitied hangout for the middle of the 20th century (that’s the bummer part of the tale) before the park instituted tours-only access in 1977. But today the free excursion is a Goonies-level adventure past stalagmites and unearthly underground pools, under a ceiling of tree roots that dig through the cave top like natural shag carpet. It still holds secrets—scientists have discovered that the bushy-tailed woodrat nests inside the cave hold material that’s 6,700 years old.

The 45-minute underground tour might be the weirdest outing in the state park system, but there’s even a bonus—a quarter-mile trail behind the cave entrance leads to the Canadian border, unmarked except for a ragged American flag and a rotting picnic table. Rangers note that border patrol has plenty of unseen cameras, but from the empty end of the trail, it looks like a bootlegger’s dream.

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