As a a potentially active stratovolcano and the second tallest mountain in Washington State, Mount Adams is encircled by numerous inactive lava tubes and caves, most of which were formed less than 20,000 years ago. The Guler Ice Caves, which were created by a pahoehoe basaltic lava flow, are unique in the fact that they harbor ice formations nearly year round. This frigid anomaly is the product of cold and heavy winter air being trapped toward the lower eastern end of the cave, preserving beautiful ice sculptures throughout the year. The cave has been well known for over a century, and at one point it functioned as a local source of ice and refrigeration for pioneers in Hood River and The Dalles.
Unlike many lava tubes in the Indian Heaven Wilderness, Guler is easily accessible during any season. In the winter, Guler Cave has less traffic and can be a fun side destination on a longer snowshoe or cross-country ski outing originating from Atkisson Sno-Park. The cave is around 650 feet in length and is divided into four sections that are separated by collapsed portions. At the entrance, an often icy flight of stairs descends into the cave opening, where you’ll quickly be surrounded by crystal clear stalactites and stalagmites. Make sure to wear shoes or boots with excellent traction, as the cave floor is commonly a solid sheet of ice; also, it is imperative to bring a bright source of light (or two). The cave ceiling is especially low in portions, so take extra precaution when helmets are not worn. Once you’ve finished exploring the cave, there is a short trail to several natural bridges over collapsed lave tubes.