Ice Caves Route
Big Lava Bed and Ice Caves
|Mileage||86 miles (139 km)|
|DurationThe duration is an estimate of a one-way drive and does not include any stops or side-trips.||2 hours, 30 minutes|
|SeasonsThe seasons listed are the best seasons for this scenic drive. If Winter is not mentioned, the road may be closed during the winter.||Spring, Summer, and Fall|
|Roadways||Forest Road 66, Washington Highways 141 and 142, and Cook-Underwood Road|
|Forest PassesSome of the adventures on this scenic drive require an admission fee that these passes cover. Please read the drive description for more information.||Pacific Northwest Forest Pass|
|ServicesThe cities or towns listed have either Food or Services such as gas, hotels, pharmacies, etc.||Goldendale, WA▼, and Glenwood, WA▼|
3.9 average from 21 votes
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Get a Forest Pass
Natural areas along this route require an entrance fee used to protect and maintain our most scenic treasures. Save time by purchasing your forest passes before you go.
The drive starts in Cook and goes to Goldendale, but you could drive it the opposite direction. From WA-14, turn right onto the Cook-Underwood Road, which if you are going east, it is just before Drano Lake and the WA-141. To start from Goldendale, turn west onto WA-142 from US-97, which you can also get to via the WA-14.
The scenic drive starts out slowly through some winding roads towards Willard. About a mile from Willard on the right is the Willard National Fish Hatchery (A3) which rears Coho and Chinook salmon.
Continuing northwards, the drive passes the Big Lava Bed (H4), a 9,000-year-old lava formation and there are several hikes in this area.
Shortly after the Big Lava Bed, the road will become a dirt road. Passenger cars can continue from this point on, just keep it slow.
Towards the end of South Prairie Road (Forest Road 66), stop and view the lake on the right. From here, the road quickly becomes Forest Road 60 (known as Carson-Guler Road on some maps) and this will into Forest Road 24 shortly.
A short while after the gravel road ends, you will reach the intersection with Forest Road 24 where you need to turn right. Within a few miles, there are a few ice caves, including Guler Cave (H3) and Ice Caves (H5). Most of these are formed by air pockets from volcanic eruptions and the ice is formed by condensation from the cold air at the bottom of the cave. This ice used to be used as refrigeration for hundreds of years prior to modern day refrigerators. As you can imagine, the caves are cool, dark, slippery, and muddy, and if you do choose to walk within them, watch your head.
Just coming out of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Forest Road 24 will turn into WA-142. Cheese Cave Road is less than four miles from here, and it will bring you to a half-mile long cave that is very much like a refrigerator. Its climate is very similar to that of the France’s Roquefort caves used for making cheese. When this was discovered in the 1930s, experiments done not only proved that the climate could produce similar cheese, but it was also the best Roquefort-type cheese produced in the United States.
The Mount Adams Ranger Station (I1) is on the right about 3/4 of a mile from the Cheese Caves Road. To go into the Mount Adams wilderness, you must register here and get information about the perfect trail for you.
When WA-141 intersects with Mount Adams Road, turn left onto it. While our drive continues by turning right onto Sunnyside Road, you can continue on Mount Adams Road to A. G. Aiken Lava Bed (H6).
If you are in a hurry to get back to WA-14 (Lewis and Clark Memorial Highway), you can head south on WA-141. Keep an eye out for livestock and other animals. Some of the livestock in this area is unfenced, including some bulls.
Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge (A2) is one of the best in the National Wildlife Refuge program and is just off Trout Lake-Glenwood Road. This refuge encompasses over 6,500 acres of wetlands, lakes and conifer forests, providing food and shelter for deer, beavers, coyotes, otters, 150 species of birds, and many other animals.
Just after Glenwood, you will drive through the Klickitat Wildlife Area (H1), which offers viewing opportunities of black tailed deer, bighorn ram, and various birds and other mammals. If you look to the south, Oregon and the Columbia Gorge will be visible and to the northwest, Mount Adams is usually within view. The road will parallel the scenic Klickitat River for many miles.
At the end of Glenwood-Goldendale Road, turn east onto WA-142. The remaining parts of the drive are flat. In 10 miles, you will arrive in Goldendale.
Goldendale features many historic homes and tours. The Klickitat County Museum (M1) is at the Presby Mansion and the 3-story home is filled with furniture, clothing, utensils and personal items from the 1800’s to the 1930’s and also features other pioneer exhibits.
At night, Goldendale Observatory (A1) offers you an opportunity to see the night sky through telescopes and learn about astronomy.