Your Guide to Spelunking the Incredible Caves in Washington State

The Pacific Northwest is an adventurer’s dream. Seek some thrills whitewater rafting or reach new heights on top of Beacon Rock. You can even go underground when you explore one of the many caves in Washington State. When you embark on these incredible hikes, it’s like you’re in another world. Go deep below the earth’s surface for an experience unlike any other. Make sure you access our complimentary Vacation Guide for the inside scoop on the best things to do and see in the area!

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4 of the Best Caves in Washington State to Explore

Ape Caves Ape Caves Light Painting

Located in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, the Ape Caves are some of the most accessible caves in Washington State. Even beginners can enjoy them! These caverns are actually ancient lava tubes; they were formed thousands of years ago when molten lava flowed through the ground. The outer layer hardened to form a tube filled with amazing geological features.

The cave is separated into two tubes: the upper tube and the lower tube. The upper tube is more difficult, but it has more interesting rock formations. The lower tube is perfect for beginner spelunkers! It takes about 4 hours to fully explore these caves; each step you take will lead you further away from civilization through a fascinating rocky path.

Guler Ice Caves ice inside the Guler Ice Caves

When you enter into the Guler Ice Caves, you will feel as if you have stepped into an ice palace. Intricate ice formations cover the floor, ceiling, and walls during the winter to early summer. Each year, the ice melts and then reforms, creating unique crystal-like sculptures in the cave. These caves were used hundreds of years ago by Native Americans to store berries, then by pioneers to harvest its ice.

We recommend visiting during the spring or early summer. During this time, the snow has subsided, and the ice has fully formed. While you explore, make sure to take a few moments to constantly shine your flashlight around you. You never know when one of the beautiful crystal ice formations will be illuminated.

Cheese Caves

You’re probably wondering how the Cheese Caves got their name. They actually have one of the most interesting histories of uses of caves in Washington State. These lava tubes used to be used to naturally refrigerate cheese! You can still see the wooden remnants of where the Guler Cheese Company once stored their prized cheeses.

These caves can be found down a dirt road near Trout Lake in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest by the building where the cheese was originally made. Descend the ladder into the vast cavern of the Cheese Caves, then begin to explore. Go deeper to see the old storage areas!

Layser Cave

The Layser Cave requires a scenic journey through lush greenery and towering pines to reach its location. The cave itself is very small but is definitely worth the visit due to the fact that it is one of the more significant archeological sites in Western Washington. The cave was used as shelter for thousands of years by Native Americans. Archeologists have been able to trace back its history through the many animal bones and stone tools that were found onsite. Duck into the small cave and take a moment to imagine what it must have been like those thousands of years ago.

What to Bring to Caves in Washington State hiking accessories

While the most important thing to bring while exploring caves in Washington State is your sense of adventure, there are a few other tools that are useful:

  • These caves are all located in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, so make sure you have a recreation pass. These can easily be bought online– just make sure you do it in advance.
  • When exploring caves, it is very important to have the right gear. The caves’ temperatures are usually around 42 degrees or less year round, so warm clothes are a must.
  • Good shoes are necessary since some of the cave floors are slippery.
  • A hard hat is recommended but not required. It will come in handy for those low ceilings.
  • Always make sure to bring a strong and durable flashlight and backup batteries so you are never stuck in the dark.

It’s Time to Book Your Caving Adventure

Carson Ridge GroundsAfter trekking through some of the astounding caves in Washington State, it’s time to come back and relax at Carson Ridge Luxury Cabins. Continue to enjoy the amazing meadow views the area has to offer as you sip on a glass of wine on your private porch. From spotless cabins to delicious breakfasts, we want you to relax, refresh, and rejuvenate while you are our guest.

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