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

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

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Boulder Cave is located east of Mt Rainier National Park. The unique feature of the cave is not the geology of the area but the Pacific Western Big-Eared bats that inhabit the cave and treat it as a hibernaculum. 

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

Boulder Cave, Washington

Protecting the hibernating bat colonies is necessary as they are essential for our environment. Keeping this in mind, the authorities close the caves to visitors in the fall and winter months. This extended closure will help prevent the spread of white-nose syndrome disease among hibernating bats. 

History of Boulder Cave

Boulder Cave was created when Devil Creek had cut through the Miocene Yakima Basalt volcanic flow around fifteen million years ago. As Devil Creek undercut the fractured basalt, the canyon wall slid down, bridging the creek and forming the Boulder Cave.

The Civilian Conservation Corps formed the trails to Boulder Cave during the 1930s. The trails begin in the picnic area, and it climbs slowly for ¾th of a mile before going into the cave. The cave trail is a 400 ft rocky trail alongside Devil Creek. However, even before the trail was built, it attracted many visitors. It led to the rapid decline of the resident bat population in the 1920s and 1930s. 

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Geological Cave Formations in Boulder Cave

Boulder Cave will teach you about geology and the balance of nature. The cave formed millions of years ago when a series of lava flows with sediment deposits covered the whole area. Eventually, these deposits were eroded, the sediments collapsed, and the caves formed. There are a few formations inside the cave, which the visitors will surely love.

Wildlife in Boulder Cave

Boulder Cave is home to the only known population of the Pacific Western Big-Eared Bats. The Pacific Western Big-Eared Bats has been listed as a sensitive species in Washington. Around 50 bats use the cave as a hibernaculum during the winter.

However, in the 1930s, the bat population in Boulder Cave was in the thousands. These bats used the cave during the summer, but, at present, they do not. The big-eared bats cannot tolerate any human disturbance, and excessive human visits in the summer months have discouraged the bats from using this cave. 

Is Boulder Cave Haunted?

Boulder Cave and its adjoining areas are great places for picnics, hiking, and spelunking. It is not a haunted place.

How Big is Boulder Cave?

Boulder Cave is approximately 400 ft deep. 

Boulder cave from inside

Boulder Cave Tours

This cave looks more like a tunnel than a cave, but it still attracts more than 35,000 visitors annually. Before entering the cave, you must brush your shoes on the AstroTurf to safeguard the bats from the spread of White-Nose Syndrome disease. You should carry a pair of flashlights along with fresh batteries. The cave is very dark; you will need high-powered flashlights for your good.

If you are coming in June, the wildflowers will be in full bloom, and the short hike to the cave through the trail will be like taking a stroll through the flower garden. The trail remains crowded in spring. 

Boulder Cave trail has a length of fewer than 2 miles (round trip), and it takes about an hour. The trail can be slippery in places, but you can see a lot of greenery when you walk through the trail. Approximately 400 ft from the cave, the trail narrows and descends and brings visitors to the edge of the entrance.

Once you get inside the cave, you will enjoy the cool experience, especially on a hot summer day. You should not point your flashlight at the cave ceiling as that will disturb the bats. You are also advised to keep your voice low inside the cave. Walking through the cave, you will understand that the cave has been a victim of vandalism many times in the past, as there is plenty of graffiti inside the cave. 

Very soon, you will see daylight towards the end of the cave, and after you exit it, there is a boardwalk that winds through the canyon and gives you close-up views of the rocky cliffs.  

Boulder Cave Tour Prices and Discounts

There is a charge of USD 5 per vehicle, but you may use the Northwest Forest Day Pass instead of the entry charge. 

Is This Cave Cold?

You should carry a light jacket or wear an extra layer of clothing as the temperature inside the cave is always cooler than the outside. 

What to Wear?

We recommend you wear sturdy shoes and an extra layer of clothing as it will be colder inside the cave. You should carry at least two flashlights to follow the path smoothly. 


Boulder Cave Hours

***Note: the cave is closing early this year (2023) They will close on September 17th for the season. Per the Naches Ranger District.

8 am to 8 pm. 

What to Do at This Cave (Beside Tours)

Boulder Cave Recreation Area was created in the 1920s so that visitors could discover the cave’s natural wonders for themselves. There is a picnic area, a group shelter, and a large stone fireplace. The shelter cannot be reserved but is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Drinking water is available at the picnic area, along with picnic tables, barrier-free toilets, and fire rings. 

Best Time to Visit

Boulder Cave remains closed from 1st October to 31st March. The ideal time to visit the cave would be between April and September. 

How to Get to Boulder Cave

From Naches, drive on Highway 12 W for 4.4 miles and then continue Highway 410 W. Follow this route for another 25 miles past the community of Cliffdel. Take a left turn on Old River Road and cross the bridge over Naches River. After crossing it, take a right turn and follow the road until the end. 

Hotels near Boulder Cave

There are limited opportunities for overnight camping near Naches River, but you can always choose to stay in a hotel or a lodge. A few good options are nearby, such as the Whistlin’ Jack Lodge and the Hummingbird Hill Resort. 

Places To Stay Nearby

Provide a safe bat habitat
Provide a safe bat habitat!

Cave Fun Facts

  • Boulder Cave was formed more than 10 million years ago. 
  • Pets are not allowed inside the cave as there is a high chance that they would spread the White-Nose Syndrome disease. 
  • It is home to three species of bats, but Pacific Western Big-Eared bats are more common. 
  • One should not point the headlamps or the flashlights at the cave ceiling as it will disturb the bats. 

Cave Details 

  • Length: It is about 400 ft deep. 
  • Time Recommended: 2 to 3 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Kid-friendly: Yes
  • Dog-friendly: Yes
  • Fees: USD 5 per vehicle or Northwest Forest Pass
  • Hours: 8 am to 8 pm 

Download our Boulder Cave Guide (Unofficial) 

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Visiting This Cave

Do you need more information before visiting this cave? Call (509) 653-1401 for an information packet. 

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