Is there anything cooler than exploring an underground hiking cave? The Ape Caves in Washington is a three-mile lava tube that was formed by lava from Mt. St. Helens. This spot is just a little bit over three hours south of Seattle and is definitely worth the journey to check out.

It's $5 for a day pass or a $55 Northwest Forest Pass annually to check out this natural wonder.

Once you enter down into the lava tube, the hike down begins in a large and full cave, but as you go further, it becomes smaller and much more rugged. 

They formed nearly 2,000 years ago and were discovered in 1950 by a logger.

Legend has it that the "logger told his spelunker friend," who then explored the cave with his sons and friends, according to the Washington Trail Association.

They called themselves the Mount St. Helens Apes; therefore, Ape Caves was born!  

You will want to bring a headlamp and a few flashlights as well as replacement batteries as the deeper you go, it becomes nearly pitch black.

Wear proper shoes for traction because some points can feel a bit slippery or unsteady under your feet. There is also a harbor cave "slime" that is food for the cave's delicate ecosystem, so it's advised that you do not touch the walls.

The ceilings are drippy, so be prepared for a few droplets to the face!

The journey is 1.5 miles in and will require more time and caution because of the rugged nature of the tube.

According to Washington Trails Association, there are many rock piles you "must climb up or over or around abrasive rocks, taking care not twist an ankle, or in some places, bump your head."    

This is a journey for the books! 

Ape Caves

Price: $5 

Coordinates: Latitude 46.108645, Longitude -122.210387

Why You Need To Go: The Ape Caves is a 2,000-year-old lava tube that was created by Mount St. Helens lava. 


This location is closed until further notice.

We strongly advise that before you go swimming or visit any location, you check the most recent updates on potential hazards, security, water quality, and closures. If you do plan to visit a location, respect the environment.

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