Ape Cave, 2.5 miles away, is one of the longest lava tubes in North America and one of the most accessible long lava tubes, although it was only found in 1946. About 2,000 years ago, the lava tube formed on the southern side of Mount Saint Helens in an unusual lava flow. About 450 years ago, a lahar flowed through the tube and plugged Ape Cave at its bottom. Many visitors come to explore the cave that can be made all year round (the road is open in winter to the Two Forest Trail, 0.8 miles below the Ape headquarters). However, not everyone is well prepared. While most of the Lower Cave is an easy walk, the Upper Cave involves a lot of scrambling over jagged lava blocks.
Headlamps are a plus so you can have your hands free to climb over the many rock pile obstacles. The lava wall and a couple of really tight spaces to get through made for an awesome experience. I've never experienced complete darkness until this. It wasn't as crowded on the day/time we went and if you turned off all your light sources, you could not see the person standing next to you. Would do this again for sure!
Northwest Forest Pass required
No dogs, food, or alcohol in the caves; go to the restroom before you go down; carry enough light; wear clothing layers
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