The Best List of Caves in Washington
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Washington is the perfect place to explore caves! Caves can be found all over the state, and each one offers a different adventure for you to go on. Caves are great for spelunking enthusiasts, as well as people who just want to experience something new. Caves offer an e
Did you ever know that there are hundreds of caves in the valleys and mountains of Washington State? These include lava tubes, limestone caves, and caves carved out of prehistoric basalt by a natural process. There are basic caves, fully explored caves, unexplored ones, and some considered wild and dangerous caves.
The Best List of Caves in Washington
In other words, Washington is a dream state for adventure seekers. Some of the caves have hiking trails and creeks running right through them, and there is one cave that was used to store cheese! So, when you are in Washington, the caves will keep you engaged for a long time.
Washington is the perfect place to explore caves! Caves can be found all over the state, and each one offers a different adventure for you to go on. Caves are great for spelunking enthusiasts, as well as people who just want to experience something new. Caves offer an exciting way to see nature up close and personal!
The Top Caves to Visit in Washington
Washington has a good collection of caves and caverns. If you visit any of these caves, you must be adequately equipped to protect yourself. Everyone should carry the basic tools like a miner’s lamp, a few light sources, candle lanterns, and, of course, a standard flashlight.
Although it is not possible to list each and every cave in Washington, here are the major caves, caverns, and lubes in the state that deserves mention –
- Ape Cave
- Big Four Ice Caves
- Cheese Cave
- Gardner Cave
- Marmes Rockshelter
- Paradise Ice Caves
- Guler Ice Caves
- Layser Cave
- Boulder Cave
- Tree Root Cave
The most important thing you need while exploring the caves in Washington is a sense of adventure, but you will also need a few additional tools for a thoroughly joyful experience. You must always have the proper gear with you, and a pair of good shoes are necessary as the floors of the cave can be slippery at times. An appropriate categorization of caves will help us understand the must-see caves of the state. So, let’s break this down a bit into the following categories.
Best Caves in Washington
Let us find out about the best caves in Washington under each category.
Ice Caves in Washington
Washington is home to several caverns, but nothing is more spectacular than the Ice caves.
Guler Ice Caves
When you enter the Guler Ice Caves, you will feel like you have stepped into an ice palace. There are intricate ice formations over the ceiling and the cave walls that remain in place from winter to early summer. The ice melts each year and reforms, thereby creating beautiful crystal-shaped sculptures in the cave. The Native Americans used this cave to store berries.
Big Four Ice Caves
The Big Four Ice Caves are located just outside the Granite Falls in Washington. It is a natural phenomenon that occurs on the northern side of the Big Four Mountain. The avalanches fall off the mountain throughout the winter and the spring months. The snow melts at a steady pace to turn into waterfalls that, in turn, creates more snow at the base leading to the formation of caves.
The ice caves are brilliant to look at, but there are multiple warning signs at every stage about the risks of stepping in. There is no need to step on the snow, and people should avoid entering the caves as there are risks of sudden cave-ins.
Cheese Caves in Washington
The cheese caves are located on private land near Gifford Pinchot National Forest, and visitors are encouraged to the 3- minute drive to the caves’ entrance and head inside. You must be wondering how the cheese caves got this whacky name! These caves have one of the most interesting histories of the uses of the caves in Washington State.
The Guler Cheese Company used the lava tubes to refrigerate the cheese naturally. Even today, you can see the remains of the wooden storage racks that the Guler Cheese company used to store their products.
Ape Caves in Washington
The Ape Caves, which are in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, are some of the most easily accessible caves in Washington. The cave can even be enjoyed by those who are new to caving and hiking. The caverns were formed thousands of years ago when molten lava flowed through the ground.
The caves are nothing but ancient lava tubes. The outer layer has hardened to form a tube that now has excellent geological features. The cave is divided into two parts – upper lube and lower lube. The upper lube has interesting rock formations, but it is more complicated than the lower tube. It will take around 3 – 4 hours to explore these fully.
Hidden Caves in Washington State
Washington has a few caves and caverns that the tourists or locals less visit, but that does not mean they are not worth looking at! Here, we look at those caves which are less frequented and enjoy the status of being ‘hidden’ from the public.
You need to pass through a scenic region of lush greenery to reach the Layser Caves. The cave is a small one but has a lot of significance as it is an important archaeological site in Western Washington. The Native Americans used the caves as a shelter for thousands of years. You can peek into this small cave and imagine how it must have felt living here thousands of years ago.
Tree Root Cave
Not precisely a cave in the truest sense of the term but the Tree Root Cave or Tree of Life is a natural spectacle. Located north of Kalaloch Lodge, the Tree Root Cave features a still breathing tree despite having no roots to hold it in place. How is the top so green? Why is the tree still alive? No, we don’t know the answers, but this hidden gem is worth a visit.
The Gardner Cave is the longest limestone cave in Washington State and has a length of 1055 ft. However, the public can only access the first 494 ft. The cave is full of flowstone, pools, stalagmites, and stalactites. One must take a tour of the Gardner Cave to understand the world of profound geologic mystery.
Lava Caves in Washington
A Lava Cave in Washington is a breathtaking natural wonder that is just waiting to be enjoyed. You can hike through one of the most extended lava tubes in North America. It is over two miles long and came into existence over 2000 years ago!
The lava tube, which is 13042 ft in length, was formed when the lava flowed down a volcanic mountain, St Helens. The place is pitch dark at all times and is not an ideal location for those who are scared of bats.
As you can tell, the state of Washington has a lot of caves to explore. Make certain to always be safe and prepared before entering any cave so you can make your cave experience a good one!
Other articles you may find helpful or interesting:
- Ultimate Guide to Onyx Cave, Arkansas (Tours, Pricing, History, Map)
- Ultimate Guide to Ursa Minor, California (Tours, Pricing, History, Map)
- Ultimate Guide to Boulder Cave, Washington (Tours, Pricing, History, Map)
- Ultimate Guide to Mystic Caverns, Arkansas (Tours, Pricing, History, Map)
- Ultimate Guide to Tree Root Cave, Washington (Tours, Pricing, History, Map)