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“Ape Caves”

Ape Cave Lava Tubes
Ranked #1 of 12 things to do in Longview
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: Formed about 2,000 years ago from a volcanic eruption, this is one of the longest lava tubes (12,810 feet) in the world.
Reviewed August 5, 2013

It was our first time going and I did bring my 8 yr old daughter , 19 yr old son and 2 friends. We first did the lower tube which was really easy for anyone, we seen a man on crutches down there. At the end you can crawl thru a narrow space and stand at the other end, however for the clastrophobic there is no need since it is the end of the tube anyways. When we returned we decided to go ahead and do the upper tube. When we reached the big room and look up at that first huge pile of boulders it was intmidating however it didn't stop us. It was deffantly a very difficult cave and would not reccomend small children as the rocks are sharp and you can easily be hurt. Half way thru we stopped for a break for water catch up!!! We finally made it to that 8 ft wall and so thankful there were 3 strong men in front of us who actuallly liftd us up the wall. After the wall there were a few more narrow enters to squeeze thru. Finally the end and as exhausted as we were and thankful to finally see and end that felt like it was never coming, we had to wait fro 17 people to come down the ladder. I felt that after our long hike they should let people going up have the right away but whatever.
I reccommend for the upper cave Gloves, Headlamps to free up your hands for climbing, extra lightsources in your backpack, warm clothes (I was still to hot from all the climbing but better safe than sorry), and proper shoes (I wore my hiking boots and my friends wore there tennis shoes daughter wore her hiking tennis shoes with grip all worked well) and it took for 4.5 hours for both caves, break and hike back down to car.
All in all, one of the best adventures we have ever had!!!! Can't wait do it again and if you are wondering how my 8 yr old daughter did, she had no fears whatso ever, stayed ahead of us, had no problems and she had the best time ever, she cannot wait to do it again either. Keep in mind I take her hiking with me 1-3 times a week normally anyways.

5  Thank Precious G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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"hiking boots"
in 18 reviews
"sturdy shoes"
in 17 reviews
"foot wall"
in 9 reviews
"warm clothes"
in 9 reviews
"light sources"
in 7 reviews
"extra batteries"
in 5 reviews
"bring gloves"
in 5 reviews
"wear long pants"
in 4 reviews
"upper entrance"
in 3 reviews
"difficult route"
in 3 reviews
"dress warmly"
in 3 reviews
"uneven ground"
in 7 reviews
"great adventure"
in 8 reviews
"parks pass"
in 4 reviews
"mt st"
in 6 reviews
"big boulders"
in 5 reviews
"year round"
in 7 reviews
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201 - 205 of 251 reviews

Reviewed August 1, 2013 via mobile

Finding out this tube-shaped cave was carved by lava flow was enough to steer me to visit while touring Mt. St. Helens. We made the 2.5 hour drive from Seattle while vacationing in the area. What a gem! Cost: $5 to park. That's it. Once on the trail, climb down a ladder into the tube/cave for a 1/4 mile hike down a flat, rocky trail or in the opposite direction take the 1.5 mile challenge over rocky flats plus huge piles of jagged boulders rising 30 feet or more. There is a surface trail which you can climb first, then descend the cave, or just walk back down after hiking up the tube. It's pitch black inside. Wear a headlamp, sturdy hiking or walking shoes, gloves to protect your hands while climbing, and a rain jacket. It's a cave with dripping water. It gets cold (42 degrees- I could see my breath at times), but you will warm up with exertion. Total hiking time is 3-4 hours. I'm from Texas. We have Natural Bridge Caverns. They are paved, lit, crowded, have guard rails and cautious guides. You must also buy a $20 ticket to go inside. By comparison Ape Cave is free, lightly travelled, and freely explored. Only complaint? Abuse of freedom evidenced by bits of trash and broken glass left by those unappreciative of the natural beauty

3  Thank Eatourmarvel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 31, 2013

Quick notes: Ape Cave Lava Tubes and Ape Cave are the same thing. Also, this site lists them as being in Longview, but they're actually about 1-1/2 hour drive south. It's not technically a "cave" per say, rather it's an underground 'lava tube' where lava once flowed through back in the day. You get there by going through Woodland and follow the signs where the Ape Cave is located at the base of Mount St. Helens.

I've been to the Ape Cave about a dozen times and have photographed it extensively. The main access that you can drive where there's a parking area. You must have an annual pass to park, or you can pay a single-visit fee there which is about $5. The pass you can purchase at the Visitors station about 12 miles down the road.

The entrance is a short hike from the parking lot, which leads to a metal stairway that takes you down to the main access. This access separates Upper Ape Cave from Lower Ape Cave. Go straight at the bottom of the stairs and you're going to the lower cave. Go around behind the stairs and you're going to the upper.

The lower is the easiest route and comes to a dead end. You can pretty much walk most of the way with a few areas you have navigate some rocks etc. This route is preferred by most people, especially those with small children.

The upper cave is more technical. You have to do some climbing around through some rocky areas. At one point, you have to climb up a "lava fall" which is about 8' up. I'm too fat to get up this, so this is my turnaround point. This eventually leads to the upper end of the cave where you can exit and take the trail back to the parking area.

Ape Cave is very safe and family friendly, but it is not for people who have any significant disabilities. ( I.E. If you're on crutches or in a wheelchair, it's not happening.) It is pitch dark and you'll need a good light source. The rangers that give tours like to use lanterns which I don't recommend. A lantern or a flashlight takes up a hand which is okay for the lower cave, but the upper cave you'll need to be able to grab on to rocks to get around. I use a head lamp which works very well.

A few things I recommend: Water is constantly dripping on you, and it's always cold and damp even when it's hot outside. So, you should have a rain jacket with a hood, or a hat. I also advise having a pair of gloves, especially if you go to the upper cave. Constant climbing around through the rocks will make your hands very sore. Another good thing to have is a small backpack with some water, extra flashlight, and first-aid kit.

They have free tours available. The guides are very cool and knowledgeable. But, they don't go down very far, so if you want a good adventure, plan on going down yourself.

Photographers: I use several wireless speedlights when I shoot there. But remember it's wet and shooting down there is like shooting out in the rain. So, if you're planning to shoot, you should have your rain gear if you have it. Also, it's just like any other hike. What you take with you, you'll have to carry the whole time so pack as light as possible. Also remember, you'll want your hands free when traversing the rocks (especially in the upper section) so having a backpack for your gear will save you a lot of heartache and work. I made this mistake the first time I shot there. I took a big tripod and a bunch of light stands which was a huge mistake.

The best time to go is early in the morning, before the crowds start pouring in. When I'm shooting photos there, I like to get there about 7:00 in the morning or earlier.

There is a porta-pottie type rest room available near the parking area which is much like what you find at state parks. They're pretty stinky and not always clean. I take Wet Ones in the individual pouches (the anti-bacterial type) to wipe the seat down before using. Also, some hand sanitizer because there isn't a sink to wash your hands.

My list of recommendations:
Good flashlight
Rain jacket
Sturdy shoes
Hat
Camera
Gloves
Bottled water
Wet Ones (restroom use)
Hand sanitizer
Sense of adventure

The Ape Cave is a lot of fun, and very safe way to explore and get a very cool caving adventure.

16  Thank Steve G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 31, 2013

Quick notes: Ape Cave Lava Tubes and Ape Cave are the same thing. Also, this site lists them as being in Longview, but they're actually about 1-1/2 hour drive south. It's not technically a "cave" per say, rather it's an underground 'lava tube' where lava once flowed through back in the day. You get there by going through Woodland and follow the signs where the Ape Cave is located at the base of Mount St. Helens.

I've been to the Ape Cave about a dozen times and have photographed it extensively. The main access that you can drive where there's a parking area. You must have an annual pass to park, or you can pay a single-visit fee there which is about $5. The pass you can purchase at the Visitors station about 12 miles down the road.

The entrance is a short hike from the parking lot, which leads to a metal stairway that takes you down to the main access. This access separates Upper Ape Cave from Lower Ape Cave. Go straight at the bottom of the stairs and you're going to the lower cave. Go around behind the stairs and you're going to the upper.

The lower is the easiest route and comes to a dead end. You can pretty much walk most of the way with a few areas you have navigate some rocks etc. This route is preferred by most people, especially those with small children.

The upper cave is more technical. You have to do some climbing around through some rocky areas. At one point, you have to climb up a "lava fall" which is about 8' up. I'm too fat to get up this, so this is my turnaround point. This eventually leads to the upper end of the cave where you can exit and take the trail back to the parking area.

Ape Cave is very safe and family friendly, but it is not for people who have any significant disabilities. ( I.E. If you're on crutches or in a wheelchair, it's not happening.) It is pitch dark and you'll need a good light source. The rangers that give tours like to use lanterns which I don't recommend. A lantern or a flashlight takes up a hand which is okay for the lower cave, but the upper cave you'll need to be able to grab on to rocks to get around. I use a head lamp which works very well.

A few things I recommend: Water is constantly dripping on you, and it's always cold and damp even when it's hot outside. So, you should have a rain jacket with a hood, or a hat. I also advise having a pair of gloves, especially if you go to the upper cave. Constant climbing around through the rocks will make your hands very sore. Another good thing to have is a small backpack with some water, extra flashlight, and first-aid kit.

They have free tours available. The guides are very cool and knowledgeable. But, they don't go down very far, so if you want a good adventure, plan on going down yourself.

Photographers: I use several wireless speedlights when I shoot there. But remember it's wet and shooting down there is like shooting out in the rain. So, if you're planning to shoot, you should have your rain gear if you have it. Also, it's just like any other hike. What you take with you, you'll have to carry the whole time so pack as light as possible. Also remember, you'll want your hands free when traversing the rocks (especially in the upper section) so having a backpack for your gear will save you a lot of heartache and work. I made this mistake the first time I shot there. I took a big tripod and a bunch of light stands which was a huge mistake.

The best time to go is early in the morning, before the crowds start pouring in. When I'm shooting photos there, I like to get there about 7:00 in the morning or earlier.

There is a porta-pottie type rest room available near the parking area which is much like what you find at state parks. They're pretty stinky and not always clean. I take Wet Ones in the individual pouches (the anti-bacterial type) to wipe the seat down before using. Also, some hand sanitizer because there isn't a sink to wash your hands.

My list of recommendations:
Good flashlight
Rain jacket
Sturdy shoes
Hat
Camera
Gloves
Bottled water
Wet Ones (restroom use)
Hand sanitizer
Sense of adventure

The Ape Cave is a lot of fun, and very safe way to explore and get a very cool caving adventure.

3  Thank Steve G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
See more reviews
Reviewed July 30, 2013

The guides at the Ape Cave Lava Tubes was very knowledgeable and extremely patient with the children in our group. We rented lanterns and they were great for light but also for keeping the hands warm. Dress warmly and wear good shoes. Bring headlamps if you have them or at least flashlights to see all the formations. Also, use the restroom BEFORE heading down.

1  Thank Kevena Z
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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