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Ultimate Guide to Cheese Cave, Washington (Tours, Pricing, History, Map)

Ultimate Guide to Cheese Cave, Washington (Tours, Pricing, History, Map)

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Cheese Cave, located in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, are lava tubes used to refrigerate the cheese naturally. As with any other cave, it is dark inside and very cold. But exploring these iconic lava tubes would be a one-of-a-kind adventure for anyone. 

Cheese Cave Cover Image
Photo Credit: Only In Your State

The tour is a learning experience. We get to learn how people stored and refrigerated the cheese in a natural way when there was no refrigerator around. The cave was formed due to lava flows about 12 to 18000 years ago from a crater that Lake Wapiki now occupies.  

History of Cheese Cave

Enough information is not available about the history of Cheese Cave, but official reports state that Joseph Arnie discovered the cave in 1894. It was primarily used for storing potatoes but seeing the constant cold temperature inside the cave; it was then used for storing and refrigerating the cheese. Homer Spencer established the Guler Cheese Co, which successfully used the consistent temperature to age the cheese. The cheese company is no longer there, but the age-old storage racks are still there towards the northern side of the cave. 

The natural entrance is 246 ft from the north end of the tube. The north cave entrance falls on private property, and there is a building over the sinkhole. In this northern end, one would come across the old storage racks used by the Guler Cheese Co. The south entrance of the cave has an artificial opening, and there is a ladder that has been permanently placed and leading to the debris pile. 

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Geological Cave Formations

Cheese Cave is a 2000 ft long lava tube in the Trout Lake area. The walls of the cavern are adorned with flow ledges and lavacicles. You will enjoy the experience of watching these beautiful formations.


Gifford Pinchot National Forest, within which Cheese Cave is located, is an excellent habitat for various wildlife species like deer, black bears, raptors, coyotes, and mountain lions. It is home to a few insects that have adapted well to the caves conditions.

Is Cheese Cave Haunted?

Cheese Cave in Washington is a Lava tube that has become a popular tourist attraction, and the place is not haunted at all. 

How Big is Cheese Cave?

It is about in length of 2060 ft. 

Cheese Cave Tours

Cheese Cave tours
Photo Credit: Only In Your State

Cheese Caves are at the end of a dirt road near Trout Lake. The cave is just beside a building where the main cheese-making processes used to take place. One can enter the caves by the South entrance, and there is also a ladder that descends to a pile of debris and rocks. 

The Lava Tube is huge with a length of 2060 ft. It has a flat floor with a high ceiling, and there are piles of fallen rocks everywhere. The cave remains cold year-round, so you must bring a jacket when coming here. When you move into the North end of the cave, one can see the wooden remnants.

After the cheese was made, the workers of the Guler Cheese Company would bring down the cheese here to refrigerate it naturally. They used to produce blue cheese since the company worked during World War II – a time when French blue cheese was no longer being imported to the US. 

The distance to the main cave area from the entrance is not far. It will take around 10 minutes to reach the other end of the cave quickly. One would come across metal stairs that will lead you to the main house. It is assumed that the steps were initially wooden, but as they deteriorated over time, they were replaced by these metal stairs.

There are 55 steps, and there is a high chance that the door at the top won’t open. If it does not open, you will have to retrace your steps and go to the other entrance. If the door is open, you can head out that way and make your way to your parked car. 

Tour Prices and Discounts

One needs to buy a Day Pass at $5 to access Gifford Pinchot National Forest as Cheese Cave is located within it. 

Is Cheese Cave Cold?

The temperature in the cave is 42 degrees F throughout the year. You must wear layers or a jacket to keep you warm inside the cave. 

What to Wear

It is very dark inside the cave. So, you must carry a pair of flashlights, wear sturdy shoes and dress in layers as the temperature inside the cave is very cold. 

Cheese Cave Hours

Cheese Cave can be visited between 8 am to sunset. 


What to Do (Beside Tours)

Cheese Cave is the main attraction, although you can explore the surroundings as there are a few places of interest here. Mount St Helens National Volcanic Monument, for example, offers a wide range of activities that all can enjoy. The seven Wilderness Areas within the Forest provide the best experiences for backpackers, hikers, and horseback riders. 

Best Time to Visit

The best time to come here would be from late February to April, which is the optimal time to view the display. 

How to Get to Cheese Cave

The Trout Lake is in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. It is located southwest of Trout Lake in Washington. 

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Provide a safe bat habitat!

Hotels Nearby

Cheese Cave is located within Gifford Pinchot State Park, and like most of the national forests, you can camp anywhere in the state park. The campsites have plenty of space available, and there are level areas so that you can pitch a tent. If camping is not your preferred staying option, you can always drive down to one of the many hotels or motels which are a short distance away from the cave. 

Cheese Cave Fun Facts

  • The cave is a lava tube with a flat floor and a ceiling as high as 18m. 
  • It was first used to store potatoes, but later, it stored cheese. 
  • The cave is fully dark inside, and one needs to carry light sources to move inside the cave
  • The Guler Cheese Company essentially used the Caves to store and refrigerate their cheese. 
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 Cheese Cave Details 

  • Length: 2060 ft
  • Time Recommended: 2 to 3 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Kid-friendly: Yes
  • Dog-friendly: No
  • Fees: USD 5 for a Day Pass
  • Hours: 8 am to sunset  

Visiting Cheese Cave

Do you need more information before visiting Cheese Cave? You can email Gifford Pinchot National Forest through the form for an information packet. 

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