HOW WE DID IT
Where: Ape Caves, WA
When: June 2012
Cost Breakdown: $15 for a park pass + $35 for gas = $50 total for a family of 4 (or however many people you can fit in your car!)
Tricks: As always, bring your own food if you’re wanting to save the most money on your day trips. You can eat a big breakfast at home, bring snacks and sandwiches to keep you full for lunch and dinner. Gas can be minimized by using your gas rewards at either Safeway or Fred Meyers. And as for the park pass, click here because you may qualify for a reduced fee or even a free one. There are also certain days that you can get into the state and federal parks for free too.
Now remember, you’re going to need to bring a warm sweatshirt (it was 80*F outside, but in the caves it was 55*F). Don’t forget the flashlights and headlamps. Do not wear flip flops or any sort of non-sturdy footwear. You can get really hurt. If you have children under 3yrs old, I’d make sure that you had a hiking backpack carrier. Our 3yr old boy loved the caves, but was prone to falling off rocky outcrops or tripping in holes.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU GET THERE
*You MUST check out Trail of Two Forests which is just before Ape Caves. Here’s a great website that has lots of pictures. If you’re not claustrophobic, you MUST climb through the little tunnels. My kids wouldn’t do it, but my husband and I took turns. The trail is now on a really nice “boardwalk” and takes you to different tunnels from the lava flows. You can look around and see the difference in age from one forest to the other. This could be a very educational experience for your kids as well.
*The Lower Ape Cave is the caves you want if you have kids with you. Its about 3/4 a mile one way. Its super dark, but awesome. This should take about an hour or so to go all the way to the end and back. Bring a back-up light source.
These were the two hikes we did on our day trip. Remember that you should only fit in your “staycation” as much as your family can tolerate without meltdowns. We had a 3yr and a 6yr old.
Two hikes were plenty.