Pend Orieille River, Boundary Dam and Gardner Cave

We got to Boundary Dam, just south of the Canadian border, when it was getting dark on Friday night. I was a little concerned about finding a place to camp, since the information we had on the area was a bit vague. As it turned out, we got a camp spot at the free campground located at the dam, and there were at least 3 other vacant spots the entire weekend. There were less than 10 campsites in total, and maybe even only 5. I didn’t count.

While the campground didn’t have much in the way of facilities, other than a clean bathroom with running water, it offered a lot of privacy and lots of space between campsites. Its location was pretty phenomenal, since we were close enough to the river to easily wheel our kayaks down to the water the next morning. And did I mention it was free?

Saturday morning, after breakfast and after it warmed up a bit, we launched. We were downriver, so we paddled/pedaled against the current initially. This worked out very well for us, because we learned that there is some serious whitewater near Metalline Falls in early spring and we weren’t up for that, nor do we have the right kayaks for whitewater. Metalline Falls is about 13 miles south/upriver from where we started.

Pee Wee Falls

Pend Oreille River is known for Pee Wee Falls (a 200’ high waterfall) and caves scattered throughout the rock walls lining the river. It lived up to all my expectations, although a lot of the caves were still underwater since it was such high water. We kayaked for about 3 hours until the current became too strong.

Getting back at around 4, we went for a walk to check out the dam, which looked to be walking distance from our campsite. What we found was a security guard and lots of intimidating signs and fences, reminding us of the threats that dams face since 9/11. We figured we’d be sent away since we had our open beers with us and were walking David’s dog, Amber, leashless. But no! Not only did we not get sent away, we got a personal tour of the dam by the tour guide who had been hanging out chatting with the security guard. I couldn’t believe our luck.

Boundary Dam

I’ve been to quite a few dams in my life, and this one was by far the most amazing. The water flowing out of the dam into the narrow gorge leading into Canada was the most spectacular thing I’ve ever seen.

The next morning, we packed up and headed for Gardner Cave in Crawford State Park before heading home. We also got a personalized tour here too! It was a nice cave, very informal and not as developed as other caves I’ve been to. At Crawford State Park, you can also go on a short hike and walk into Canada, which we did.

Gardner Cave

What a bonus to not only kayak Pend Orielle River but to also see Boundary Dam and Gardner Cave. This was a great weekend.



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