The 6 Best Washington Cave trails you need to do in 2023!

Exploring the hidden wonders of Washington and wanting to dive deep into stunning caves in Washington? Then look no further! While there are over a hundred caves in Washington, we listed the top 6 caves that people frequently visit! We also made sure to include helpful information such as length, whether or not pets are allowed parking situations and if there are any sort of reservations required before exploring.

So continue reading because there is much to cover for the most iconic Washington Caves!

Inside the Miner Cave

Why Should you explore Washington Caves?

Washington is home to some of the most beautiful natural views, hidden wonders, and sceneries, whether you are hiking trails for scenic lake views, exploring the Western coastlines, rummaging through the sacred rainforest, or deep exploring secret caverns.

Washington pretty much has it all; maybe we are a little biased since we live in Washington hehe. But no, really,

So yes, explore Washington caves; there is so much variety in the cave systems we have in the Evergreen state. Whether you want to see stunning ice caves, trek into limestone caves, unique caves, and lava tubes.

Washington has got you covered in all those areas!

How Many Caves are there in Washington?

Washington State is home to around 110 caves of various kinds, such as ice caves, Limestone caves, and lava tube caves.

Washington Caves Packing List

*Not an exhaustive list, but practical things to bring when exploring caves in Washington*

  • Flashlights and other light sources
  • Emergency hiking kit
  • Safety kit
  • Food rations for several days
  • Water for several days
  • Extra Batteries
  • Compass and other hiking navigation systems
  • Layered clothing it can get really cold in the caves
  • Rain Gear
  • Hiking boots
  • Snow gear if going during winter
  • Printed Map
  • Camera

Best Caves in Washington to explore!

Ape Cave Trail

Where: Gifford Pinchot National Forest

Season: Year Round

Difficulty: Moderate

Length: 2.8 miles roundtrip

Elevation: 350 feet

Pets Allowed: no

Parking: Northwest Forest Pass from spring to fall; you’ll need a Snow Park permit during winter.

*Reservation is required to visit Ape Caves between May to October*

Explore one of the most iconic caves you can visit in Washington, the lava tubes known as Ape Cave is a famous trail for tourists and hikers. Through this moderate-level trail, you will embark on a journey you won’t soon forget.

Keep in mind before, going through the lava tube, that you and your party understand there is no food, no pets, smoking and definetlyt no rock collecting while voyaging thrughthe cave system.

Also, you will notice the walls are shiny, don’t touch them! its slime and important for cave ecosystem.

Safety Warning: This is a cave, and it’s around 42F; bring multiple light sources; we recommend at least three light sources and one for each group member. Plus, bring some spare batteries, just in case. Also, this is a cave, so beware and enter at your own risk 👀.

Spruce Railroad Trail miner cave entry

Spruce Railroad Trail: Miner Cave

Where: Lake Crescent – Olympic National Park, home to some Gorgeous lakes in Washington!

Closest City: Port Angeles, Washington

Season: Year round

Access: Yes, this trail is on the paved path; Devil’s punch bowl would be the exception as it is a dirt path with climbing.

Difficulty: Easy/Moderate

Length:5.0 miles each way (but the miners’ cave is within the first few miles!)

Elevation: 250

Pets Allowed: Dogs on Leash

Parking: National Park Pass – America the Beautiful

The miners cave is not the main attraction for spruce trailhead, but it’s a cool cave to walk through as part of the trail! Just make sure to stay on the right, as incoming traffic such as stroller,s wheelchairs and bikes will be coming through and the cave is not lit! So bring a flashlight, however the entry and exit do provide some lighting.

Plus, it’s next to Devil’s Punch bowl, an insanely popular tourist attraction outside the cave near the water. When you are done, you can walk the whole 10 miles round trip trail or scurry back to the trailhead for your next journey.

Big Four Ice Caves trail

Where: Granite Falls, Washington

Season: Year-round, but best time to visit is May – October

Difficulty: easy

Length: 2.3 miles

Elevation: 220 ft

Pets allowed: Dogs allowed on leash

Parking: America the beautiful pass – two parking lots

Warning: Never enter the ice caves; they can spontaneously collapse. Also, the area is a high-risk avalanche zone during colder seasons. Also, watch out for snow and ice!

This is an easy route, but there is usually some snow and ice at the beginning of May, so we recommend bringing the necessary hiking gear. This area is also famous for cross-country skiing, hiking, and snowshoeing.

The Big 4 ice caves themselves are beautiful, but just make sure to admire them from the outside. Never go inside an ice cave; they are extremely unstable.

Love exploring WAterfalls? Read our Guide to the Best Waterfalls in the Evergreen state!

Layser cave trail

Where:White Pass

Closest city: Randle and Packwood

Season: Summer, early fall, and late spring

Difficulty: Easy

Length: Quarter of a mile

Elevation: 100 feet

Pets Allowed: Dogs Allowed on Leash

Parking: Northwest Forest Pass required at parking lot

While small, this little cave is a hidden wonder of Washington and houses thousands of years of history as archeologists traced back 7000 years ago to the presence of humans via the tools and animal bones found in the cave.

Nowadays, the cave is a reminder of the interesting past of humanity and also serves as a go-to destination for travelers looking for the most remarkable caves in Washington.

Just keep in mind this cave is tiny! So don’t hog up the cave, and ensure you are mindful of others visiting this area.

Lake Lenore Cave Trail

Where: Grand Coulee

Closest City: Soap Lake, Washington

Season: Spring to fall

Length: 1.5 miles roundtrip

Elevation: 200 feet

Difficulty: easy

Pets allowed: No

Parking: Discover pass required at parking lot

Not only do you get one ancient cave you get several caves! Lake Lenore Caves is a pretty easy trail to follow, but does include some climbing and hugging some questionable areas.

However, the end result is well worth the short trek from the parking lot. You can enter the caves or admire them from outside; make sure to have flashlights and mind your footing as you gaze upon these caves with over 12,000 years of history surrounding them.

If you are wondering how they were created, it happened during the great Missoula flood as the water began to pull pieces of basalt from the coulee walls, thus was created the famous caves we know today.

Back then, it’s said Native Americans used them as a shelter from the harsh elements, and even today, they use the area as a sacred gathering place.

So please be respectful of the area when you are enjoying it.

Snake Warning: Keep an eye out for rattlesnakes! They are common in the area and are usually out sunbathing during the day.

Gardner Cave – 3rd Longest Limestone Cave in Washington

Where: Selkirk Range

Season:

Length: 1.0 mile round trip

Elevation:

Pets Allowed:

Parking: Discover Pass

Tours: Free Tours are offered Thursdays – Monday at different intervals of time that start at 10:00 am and end at 4:00 pm. Please keep in mind tours book up quickly, and they only allow 20 people at a time per tour.

Warning: Don’t touch the cave walls; calcite is needed for the cave’s ecosystem.

This limestone cave is extremely cool and close to the Canadian border if you want to explore the area. Keep in mind since its nearly 90 feet underground, it’s very cold, around 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

The cave itself features baby stalactites, which are icicle-shaped formations that will hang from the roof of a cave. The Stalactites are pointy looking and thin and are the result of precipitation and minerals dripping from the cave ceiling.

Washington Caves FAQ

How many caves are in Washington?

There are around 110 caves in the state of washington, these include caves such as limestone caves and lava tubes.

Does Washington state have caves?

Yes, Washington has over 100 caves of different types, such as lava tubes, Limestone caves, and ice caves.

What is the deepest cave in Washington state?

The deepest cave in Washington state is Newton Cave. As some state, it can reach depths of over 800 feet deep.

Which state has 4 big ice caves?

Washington state has the 4 big ice caves, which are located in Granite Falls.

How long is Gardner Cave?

The 500 million-year-old Gardner cave is the 3rd longest cave in Washington and has a reported length of over 2000 feet.

Why is Ape caves closed?

The ape caves were closed in the spring of 2020 and should open in mid-May 2023 with a new reservation system.

*Information can change without notice, So double-check before going! Also, Be Safe! And follow local signs and ordinances by checking the official sources for any changes in climate, terrain, and safety warning*

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