Ape Cave FAQ

Ape Cave is the longest lava tube cave on the american continents. It is 2.4miles (about 3.8 kilometers) long, and a wonderful place to spend a day.  If you live in the Pacific Northwest of the US, or are just passing through the Mt. St. Helens area, Ape Cave is really worth a visit! For more information on the cave, call the parks service in Vancouver,WA at 360-247-3900.

Why is it called "APE" Cave?

Ape Cave gets its name from the group of young outdoorsmen who first explored it in 1952. The Mt. St. Helens Apes, as they called themselves. Originally a Boy Scout troup, they jokingly referred to themselves as the Mt. St.Helens Apes- and the name stuck. The name also implies a possible connection with the mysterious Sasquatch...

Is there an entrance fee?

Yes.  There is a pass you must buy to visit Ape Cave.  There are several different pass types, with varying fees and time limits.  As of  July, 2003, the "Northwest Forest Pass" is required to visit Ape Cave.  This pass is a per-vehicle pass, $5 for a single day, and $30 for a year.  Check the links page for further information.

What kind of conditions should I expect to find in the cave?

Ape Cave is not geared for the casual tourist. It is nearly entirely in its natural state- (except for the steel stairs, the informative plaques and, unfortunately, some vandalism)

Ape cave is Unlit, Cold and Damp.

The only light in the cave is whatever YOU bring in. In the Upper cave, there are a couple of skylights- natural openings to the surface, but the light from them can only be seen for a short distance.

Ape cave sustains an average year-round temperature of 42 degrees Farenheit-(about 5.5 degrees Centigrade) In some narrow places there is a definite breeze that can reach 10 miles per hour- (bring a little kite!) It IS possible for the poorly prepared person to get hypothermia.

There is a lot of moisture in the cave. The floor has pools of water and mud, and the ceiling is dripping with cold water. (Most of it seems to go down the back of my neck...)   During the wet seasons...(HA! Every season in Washington is a wet one!) Anyway- during the wetter times, the lower part of the cave has a flowing stream in it. On the surface above the cave are several seasonal streams that leach into the ground and hence into the cave.

Tips for Enjoying the cave

By being prepared for the conditions at Ape Cave, it may very well become one of your favorite day-trips. Please follow the rules posted around the cave, so that others after you will have an enjoyable time in the cave as well.  (Its a good idea to bring a small plastc bag or something to collect and remove litter)

And Remember:

Take nothing but Pictures

Leave nothing but Footprints

Kill nothing but Time