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
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
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!
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)
Take nothing but Pictures
Leave nothing but Footprints
Kill nothing but Time