In Focus: Exploring the Ape Cave South of Mount St. Helens, Which Reopened May 18


The Ape Cave in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest south of Mount St. Helens reopened to the public on Thursday. 

Timed reservations are required, according to a release. Entry tickets became available on April 15. 

According to Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Ape Cave is the third longest lava tube in North America, measuring 2.5 miles long. The cave temperature is 42 degrees 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,” stated a news release. “In summer, Ape Headquarters, a small information station, offers lantern rentals, information and sales items to ticket holders.”

Those who visit are advised to not touch cave walls or the ceiling in order to help protect the cave.

“Touching kills cave slime, a basis for the food chain of tiny creatures that live there,” stated the release. “Help protect our bats and caves from White Nose Syndrome. Practice leave no trace principles by packing out all that you bring with you.”

To get to the Ape Cave from Interstate 5, take Exit 22 and turn left onto Dike Access Road. Continue onto old Pacific Highway and then take a slight left on East Scott Avenue. Take the second exit at the traffic circle onto Lewis River Road where you’ll travel for about 30 miles. Continue onto Road 90 before eventually turning onto National Forest Road 83. Take a left at National Forest Road 8303 and follow the signs to the cave. 

Entry tickets are available online at There is a $5 fee per vehicle per day at the site. People can also utilize a valid Recreation Pass. 

For more information, go online to