Drippy, dark, and creepy! Those are the defining features of Ape Cave at the southern base of Mount St. Helens.
Ape Cave is thought to have been created about 2,000 years ago from flowing lava tubes where the outer portion hardened while the inner was able to drain away. The result is a 2.4-mile lava tube, the third longest in North America! And it's easy to explore!
After parking with a Northwest Forest Pass, walk about a quarter-mile down a path through the trees. There are a number of places to brush your boots before entering the cave. This helps keep the cave's ecosystem in good shape. When you come to the mouth of the cave, a staircase takes you down into the darkness.
Make sure you have proper equipment before venturing into said darkness. It is absolutely pitch black once you get inside. It's recommended you bring 2-3 light sources, and be sure the batteries are charged.
Next, the cave is quite drippy. Rain gear works well along with waterproof boots.
There are an upper portion and lower portion of the cave. The lower portion is the easier walk with less distance. The upper portion is about 1.5 miles with some climbing involved and tight spaces toward the end.
To keep the cave in the best shape possible, no pets are allowed (sorry, Bear!). No food, no rock collecting, and no touching the cave walls.