The sign at the parking lot reads "a beautiful grotto exists," and that's absolutely true.
The Manresa Grotto is located just north of the tribal headquarters on the Kalispel Reservation in Usk, Wash., and once you sit there for a bit it's easy to understand why people have worshipped there for generations. As you walk up the dusty little trail off LeClerc Road, the coolness from the cave is the first thing you notice, like a cold draft around your legs.
The cave is suspended between the road below, the mountain behind, the sky above and the mighty view of the land to the south.
Inside the Manresa Grotto a stone altar still stands in the cool shade of the huge rock wall. The ceiling is pitched high above as tall as in any church, and the view through the huge opening is sweeping over the treetops, the Pend Oreille River and the Kalispel Indian Reservation.
April Pierre, spokeswoman for the Kalispel Tribe, says that the caves have been used for thousands of years.
"They are the site of the first St. Ignatius Mission and Catholic Church with Father Desmet and they are a focal point for the reservation," Pierre writes. "The Tribe continues to hold Mass there at least once a year and the Manresa Grotto is on the National Register of Historic Places."
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