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5 of the PNW's most incredible caves to cross off your bucket list this summer

The Pacific Northwest has tons to explore outside, why not cross a few explorations off your bucket list this summer?
Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer
Mount St. Helens (Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer/Getty Images)

Oregon Caves

Cave Junction, Oregon

The Oregon caves offer many different views and attractions. Cave tours are great if you are looking for something new, or maybe even expanding on skills you already have! You can go on a Discovery cave tour that explores Miller’s Chapel as a group, or if you’re brave enough try a candlelight cave tour – which as you probably guessed is only guided by candlelight. If you are feeling extra adventurous try the off-trail caving tour. All the tours are rich with knowledge and history. Whichever way you choose to explore, just make sure you take lots of pictures!
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Pretty cool place

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Ape Caves

South Cascades on Gifford Pinchot National Forest - Mount St. Helens

The Ape caves never disappoint and offer 2.8 miles of straight – or rather curvy turns of awe. The temperature inside the caves is always 42 degrees F. The cave has a delicate ecosystem so be prepared for some slimy residue just about everywhere, but we promise the views are worth all the goo. The Ape caves are perfect for people who like to explore in any type of terrain because there will be tight passage ways to wiggle through. Make sure to pack light and only bring necessities. According to the Washington Trail Association, the cave was formed over 2,000 years ago from lava streaming down the southern flank of Mount St. Helens. As the outer edges cooled into a hardened crust, the inner molten lava drained away before it hardened, leaving behind a tube.
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Big Four Ice Caves

North Cascades on Mountain Loop Highway

The Big Four Ice Caves are ideal for any age and athletic ability. They hold beautiful views that are surprisingly not hard to reach. It is the perfect route to pack a picnic and relax on. The caves were originally formed by melting snow and waterfalls from the above cliff and wind, so they are really snow caves under an avalanche chute. The Washington Trail Association warns explorers not to climb on top of the caves because avalanches have happened in the past, and they can’t control the weather. The trail comes to a halt with gorgeous views of the Big Four and the beauty that surrounds it. This is the perfect adventure that requires minimal effort with the maximum scenery.
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The Lenore Lake Caves

Central Washington

The Lenore Lake Caves are sure to impress the inner daredevil in you. Although the hike is short, you will be able to spend an entire day exploring the beautiful terrain. The caves share ground with Lenore Lake giving hikers even more to admire. According to the Washington Trail Association, the caves were created during the Great Missoula flood, after the waters retreated and the caves had been created, early Native Americans used these areas as shelters. The area is still used as a sacred space and gathering ground. The trail ends at the largest cave where you can sit back, relax and enjoy the view.
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first stop of our trip 🌀 #weekendtrip #easternwashington #caves

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Boulder Cave

Mount Rainier Area - Chinook Pass

Boulder Cave is the perfect cave to explore this summer with friends or family. There is a beautifully laid trail that leads you straight to the entrance of the cave. The cave itself was formed more than 10 million years ago by the collapse of sediment. The hike is short but offers sweet views. You won’t be the only one exploring Boulder cave, it is also home of the Pacific Western Big-eared Bat. Due to the conservation of habitat for the bats, the Washington Trail Association warns hikers to limit noise, do not touch the cave walls, do not shine a light on the ceiling of the cave and stay on the designated trail.
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