Mt. St. Helens Ape Caves

Get Outside in a Cave...Mt. St. Helens Ape Caves


The full experience at Mt. St. Helens Ape Caves includes the easy exploration of a spacious lava tube, followed by more difficult travel through a smaller, longer, and more rugged lava tube to an exit. Then, enjoy an easy return hike winding through shady forest and crusty lava formations.



Lone Fir Resort

Call (360) 238-5210 for Reservations

Mt St Helens Ape Caves

Re-Opened May 18th 2021

Ape Cave, visitors will be required to obtain a timed reservation ticket in advance of their visit. Reservations available at www.recreation.gov

Know before you go

Before you go, make sure everyone is aware of the In order to protect the fragile cave environment, the following are prohibited inside Ape Cave: Pets, Food or Drinks, Alcohol, Fireworks, Fires, Camping and Smoking.

Help protect Ape Cave

Please do not touch cave walls or ceiling. Touching kills cave slime, a basis for the food chain of tiny creatures that live there. Help protect our bats and caves from White Nose Syndrome. Practice Leave No Trace principles by packing out all that you bring with you.

Explore Ape Cave

Explore a chilly, pitch-black lava tube over two miles long. A short, paved, accessible trail beneath towering trees leads to a stairwell into the cave. The ¾ mile, one-way lower cave route is relatively easy and family friendly. For the more adventurous, the 1.5 mile upper cave route leads to a climb up an eight foot rock wall and scramble over rock piles, then an exit and a 1.5 mile above ground hike back to the parking lot.

Ape Cave is the third longest lava tube (2.5 miles long) in North America and the cave temperature is 42 degrees F/5.6 degrees C year-round. Make sure to bring two sources of light per person (a cell phone light is not bright enough), sturdy shoes, warm clothing, even in warm weather. In summer, Ape Headquarters, a small information station, offers lantern rentals, information and sales items to ticket holders.

Directions

From Woodland, WA take State Route 503 to Cougar WA then take Lewis River Road east for 2.8 miles. The road then changes to Forest Road 90. Continue on Forest Road 90 to Forest Road 83, approximately 4 miles and turn left. Drive Forest Road 83 for 3 miles then turn left onto Forest Road 8303. Drive approximately 1.5 miles, past Trail of Two Forest, Apes' Headquarters is located at Ape Cave on Forest Road 8303 on the left.

Accessibility:

The parking lot and visitor area facilities are flat and paved. A paved trail leads to the lower cave entrance, but gets rougher to reach the upper entrance.

About Ape Cave

Ape Cave was discovered in 1947 by a logger named Lawrence Johnson. However, the cave was not explored until the early 1950's when a scout troop, led by Harry Reese, lowered a team of scouts down a 17-foot overhang to the cave floor. Leaving footprints where no one ever had, these explorers were able to travel through a pristine lava tube full of fragile formations. Ape Cave was named by the Scout Troop in honor of their sponsor, the St. Helens Apes. This local group was made up primarily of foresters. The sponsor’s name, St. Helens Apes, may have come from an old term used for foresters in the area, "brush apes," or from the legend of Bigfoot.

All Information is used from USDA - Forest Service - Gifford Pinchot National Forest - Ape Caves Interpretive Site.

For More Information: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/giffordpinchot/recarea/?recid=40393



 

Driving Directions

From Woodland, WA take State Route 503 to Cougar WA then take Lewis River Road east for 2.8 miles. The road then changes to Forest Road 90. Continue on Forest Road 90 to Forest Road 83, approximately 4 miles and turn left. Drive Forest Road 83 for 3 miles then turn left onto Forest Road 8303. Drive approximately 1.5 miles, past Trail of Two Forest, Apes' Headquarters is located at Ape Cave on Forest Road 8303 on the left.