We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.
Save
Review Highlights
Great hike through an underground lava tube

Must bring strong headlamp (or flashlight) and proper tennis shoes or hiking boots. It's an... read more

Reviewed yesterday
Linh T
,
los angeles
Excellent family outing

This place is a great adventurous excursion for the family. I took my wife, 14 year old daughter... read more

Reviewed 2 days ago
jorzzwy
,
Seattle, Washington
via mobile
Read all 283 reviews
  
Reviews (283)
Filter reviews
281 results
Traveler rating
191
78
9
2
1
Traveler type
Time of year
LanguageAll languages
191
78
9
2
1
Show reviews that mention
All reviews hiking boots sturdy shoes ape cave foot wall warm clothes bring a flashlight extra batteries upper part difficult route dress warmly uneven ground light source upper trail great adventure rain jacket parking pass walking stick
Filter
Updating list...
1 - 10 of 281 reviews
Reviewed yesterday

Must bring strong headlamp (or flashlight) and proper tennis shoes or hiking boots. It's an underground lave tube so it gets pitch dark and slippery at some points due to the snow and water. It can be a short or long hike. If it's the long route, you will have to climb a tall wall (over 6'2 or so) using a rope. It's real life CrossFit. Before we went down into the cave, we talked to a couple who gave us the tip to start from the side near the sign to make it back to the parking lot. Basically start from the side with the lodging. Pack snacks and water. This is a definitely a different hiking experience- its the longest lava tube in North America! I went in March where there was lots of snow outside of the tube. It was up to my knees at the end for a 5 foot gal. Be sure to get your snow pass permit because they do ticket. This is not your regular park pass. It's only $5.

Thank Linh T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 2 days ago via mobile

This place is a great adventurous excursion for the family. I took my wife, 14 year old daughter, and 11 year old son. It has just the right amount of adventure, and a bit of scare to keep the kids very much into the entire “hike.” There are two tubes and I much prefer the “upper” tube. The lower is good for younger kids as it’s not as much climbing and it isn’t as long. You go down and back on the lower and the upper you start at one end and exit the other end. Bring a headlamp and a backup flashlight for your pocket per person. The temperature is a fairly consistent 43 degrees which is a bit chilly but keep in mind you are hiking through the tube so all of us were actually hot towards the middle and shoved our jackets into my small backpack half way thru. Sturdy soles shoes is a must. Takes about 1 hr to 1 1/2 hrs to go thru the upper tube at a pretty casual pace.

Thank jorzzwy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 6 days ago

A popular stop on the south edge of Mt. St. Helens national monument, it has a limited parking lot (fee) even on non-holiday weekends in May. There are limited facilities here, and bring an extra layer of clothes, a flashlight, and good walking shoes for going underground. After a hike through the woods a bit, to go into the cave you'd need to be able to descend to-and after walking through the cave in so far as you wish ascent the steps from-the cave. You'll be maneuvering around and about fellow tourists in dark and uneven quarters. It's not Carlsbad Caverns!

Thank brifd1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 1 week ago via mobile

Ape Caves is a tucked away treasure. It is definitely a special place to the locals and I hope they can keep it that way.
Take plenty of lighting, light sides, good waterproof shoes, warm layers, and a good head lamp. The Upper Caves is longer and challenging, but worth it. The lower Cave is a easy walk

Thank Jenny S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 4, 2018

I won't beat you over the head with what a geological, scientific wonder this truly is. The experience of being underground in the dark, echoing, massive, mile plus underground cave system, will speak for itself. The stalactites and walls drip. A rain jacket is a good idea, regardless of when you visit. To state the obvious, it's pitch dark as well. Bring a flashlight. The terrain is uneven, so boots should be worn also. That said, there is nothing unsafe or treacherous about any aspect of the cave. It's a nice walk for parents, children, and people of all ages...and while not strenuous, and not resembling a hike, you will get in a light work out without realizing it. The whole experience can be done in under and hour, down and back, at a comfortable place. A great diversion. An experience that is unlike any other in the area. Go and appreciate what nature created.

2  Thank Jeremyka_11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 30, 2018

Simple park ‘cave’ . Short one is fairly flat with uneven surface and a bit of an eneimic water trickle down through part of the floor. About ¾ mile in and then have to walk back. Longer more rugged version heads in opposite direction. $5 lantern rental at park office at start of cave access. Definitely need more than cell phone or triple A flashlights to see - no other light, hand rails, or restrooms in the cave

1  Thank ken r
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 22, 2018

Lave tubes and no apes...

Great story about why it’s named ape caves.

Kinda spooky but way cool. Two lava tubes 3/4mile and 1.5miles.
Still and quiet. Damp, moist but not clammy.

Cool that you get to walk through them on your own without guides etc.
Bring your own flashlight ( or headlamp if you’re a hiker)
You can rent lights/lanterns at office.

Yes yes yes

Thank Summerasalifestyle
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 10, 2018

We took the short version of the hike thru the lava tube. Nothing really scenic but our first experience in a lave tube so it was somewhat interesting. You do need to make sure you have two really good flashlights/headlamps. And warm clothes. Gloves would have been helpful. The short hike is 3/4 mile in and and return same way. The other is 1 1/2 mile hike through the upper part but heard it was quite challenging.

Thank FTTraveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 2, 2018

This was amazing. We completed the longer, more challenging portion of the tubes and we are thrilled that we did! We would have been in rough shape without our supportive shoes, headlamps, and gloves. Gloves aren't just necessary for warmth. You'll use your hands for support quite often and they'll get cut up quickly if not protected. Some agility and strength is definitely required for this section - lots of piled rocks/lava to navigate and a 10-foot wall to scale. However, if you're up for an adventure and want an amazing experience, do this!

Thank Sara D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 31, 2018

We stopped by Apes Caves on our drive back from Portland to Seattle. From the I5 exit, it's about an additional 1hr to the location. It's a windy path and it's 1 lane each way so be prepared for potential slow drives depending on who/what is ahead of you. It sounds weird to hike in pitch black darkness but it was such a cool experience! We took our time look at the rock erosion, details of lava rocks and just howled at the top of our lungs in certain areas where there were no people. The kids just loved it! At the time of this visit, our kids were 10yrs and 12yrs.

Be warned - dogs are NOT allowed into the caves what so ever. They are working on preventing the spread of some sort of white fungus which kills the bats in the area so no pets allowed.

FEES:
When we got there, you have to go the gift shop for a form which you fill out and pay $5. Then you get a stick/stub that you put on your dash. It's $5 per vehicle, not per person. Parking is limited and be prepared to have to park outside of the lot, on the side of the road.

CLOTHING:
Depending on which hike you want to do, you should make sure you have proper footwear. At minimum, full closed toe shoes with soles that have some grip. Hikers are ideal for either hike option but dont get fancy with the nice sneaker slide shoes. They have minimal grip and you're inviting a slip/fall. We recommend layers as the caves are definitely quite cool and even though you do warm up once you get walkin in the caves, it's still quick cool. When we went, it was about 25C outside and we work tshirts with a hooded sweater or a windbreaker and that was ok. No shorts - long bottoms. Some people wore shorts but it really depends on your tolerance for cooler temperature.

HIKE OPTIONS/CAVE INFO:
There are two potential hikes that you can take within the tubes - ppper cave or lower cave - more on these two options below. The caves are PITCH black and do NOT think that your cell phone lights are bright enough. You definitely - DEFINITELY need flash lights, at least one for every two people but what is ideal is for each person to have a headlamp/headlight as this is best for light illumination in the tunnels. When we first arrived, both my husband and I thought we could do this with our 2 kids with our cell phone lights - WRONG! Dont even attempt it. You could but it just means you can't actually see a lot of the rock walls inside because the cell phone lights dont go far enough. You will be looking at your feet and probably the next 2ft around you.

The lower tube is about 1.5miles round trip and there is a hard stop at the end so there is no guessing about "do I go on". This is the option that our family went with because we weren't fully prepared to hike the longer option.

From what the park ranger explained to us, the longer tube will actually exit at a different point in the park and there is a 8ft vertical climb that needs to happen. There are foot holes in the rocks but no other assistance and you will be required to climb over jagged lava blocks. Definitely need to be dressed appropriately for this and the hike. The round trip for this hike is closer to 3 miles.

OTHER MISC:
There are outhouses on site and depending on the weather, prepare for the smell. Hold your breath or go to the washroom well before the caves.

There is a gift shop onsite and inside, you can rent gas lanterns for $5. You will have to leave a drivers license with them, which you get back when you return the lantern. It's a hot lantern so be sure to keep it away from your clothes! We didn't have a flashlight so we had to go this route and honestly - thank goodness we did. Our cell phones wouldn't have done nothing for us down in the tube. At the time when we went - August 2018, the upper caves lantern rentals ended at 2:30pm and the lower caves lantern rentals ended at 3:30pm.

6  Thank Cherlene M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
View more reviews