Ape Cave

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Ape Cave
Ape Cave entrance.jpg
Ape Cave entrance
LocationGifford Pinchot National Forest, Skamania County, Washington
Length13,042 feet (3,975 m)
HazardsSharp rocks that hang down
A famous feature far into the cave is the "Meatball". It is a lava ball wedged in a ceiling channel. Lava balls form from smaller rocks which roll along in lava flows, accreting more and more layers over time, like a snowball rolling down a snow bank.

Ape Cave is a lava tube located in Gifford Pinchot National Forest just to the south of Mount St. Helens in Washington state. Its passageway is the longest continuous lava tube in the continental United States and the third longest (in total mapped length) lava tube in North America at 2.5 miles (4,023 meters).[1] Ape Cave is a popular hiking destination with beautiful views of the Mount St. Helens lahar region. Lava tubes are an unusual formation in this region, as volcanoes of the Cascade Range are mostly stratovolcanos and do not typically erupt with pahoehoe (fluid basalt).

The cave was discovered circa 1951 by Lawrence Johnson, a logger, when he noticed a tree that "looked wrong." After investigating the tree, he discovered it tilted into a lava tube collapse. A few days later, Johnson brought the Reese family back to the cave, and Harry Reese was lowered to the floor and became the first person to explore the interior. Subsequent explorations were conducted by members of the Mount St. Helens Apes, a local Boy Scout troop.[2]

Ape Cave Trail No. 239, which runs along the interior of the cave, is a National Recreation Trail receiving 170,000 visitors each year.[3]


  1. ^ USGS, Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, retrieved 2013-05-20
  2. ^ Halliday, William R. (1983), Ape Cave and the Mount St. Helens Apes, p. 24
  3. ^ "Ape Cave Trail No. 239". American Trails. 2013-04-23. Retrieved 2014-08-14.

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Coordinates: 46°06′29″N 122°12′43″W / 46.108086°N 122.211877°W / 46.108086; -122.211877