North of Usk on the Kalispel Reservation, a sign reading simply that “A beautiful grotto exists” marks the entrance to one of the tribe’s most sacred places. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and open to the public, the natural cave system at Manresa Grotto was the site of early Catholic missionary efforts in the region.
A gentle path no more than 100 yards long approaches the main cave, where rows of flat rocks arranged as seats face a simple altar of mortared rock. Explorers can wander the myriad side paths to access smaller caves, all with peek-a-boo views of the Pend Oreille River.
Unusual patterns of divots and dimples in the walls give evidence to the caves’ creation millennia ago, when wind-driven waves coming off a glacial lake in the Pend Oreille Valley carved concavities into the soft rock.
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