Guler Ice Caves

Guler Natural Cold Storage For Fruits And Vegetables

Useful Information

Location: 9 km southwest of Trout Lake, Gifford Pinchot National Forest. From White Salmon Washington Route 141 north to Trout Lake, then west on Forest Road 24 (Carson-Guler road) for 9 km. 2 km west of the Mt. Adams Ranger Station on the Carson-Guler road.
Open: Memorial Day to 15-NOV during daylight hours. [2005]
Fee: free [2005]
Classification: Speleologylava tube SpeleologyIce cave
Light: None, bring torch.
Dimension: L=120 m.
Guided tours:  
Bibliography: Marge Mueller, Ted Mueller (1995): A Guide to Washington's South Cascades' Volcanic Landscapes, The Mountaineers, 1995
Address: Tel: +1-206-696-4041.
Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Mount Adams Ranger District, Tel: +1-509-395-4300.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


???? discovered by two boys.
~1860 used as a source for ice during summer.
1895 "discovered" by Jack Aerni.
1928 steps into the cave and a house built over the opening by W.H. Dean.


Around Trout Lake numerous lava tubes of the Mt. Adams volcano exist. There are small caves and some up to 1 km long, which are different parts of a few once connected lava tubes. Most of them are not accessible to the public and rather dangerous. The caves were generally formed by lava streams less than 20,000 years ago. The Guler caves are the result of a pa-hoe-hoe lava stream emerging from a crater vent in Indian Heaven Wilderness, which is today filled with water and called Lake Wapiki.

A special thing with lava tubes is their geometry, which is a result of how they are formed. A lava flow from the top of the volcano flows downhill, gets a solid crust, and when the eruption ends the lava flows out of the crust leaving the tube. Those tubes go always downhill with a certain slope, are very close to the surface, and get numerous entrances and divided into pieces by roof collapses. Sometimes a sort of cold trap effect is the result: cold air high up the mountain is going down into the cave, reemerging in a much deeper part of the long tube. The result is a cold cave, sometimes even cold enough to support ice the whole year.

Among the caves near Trout Lake there are the Ice Caves, which show such a behaviour. There is a lure, they were discovered by two boys a long time ago. They found only a small hole, but after dropping a stone through they knew it was a cave. Another story tells about a Jack Aerni, who discovered it in 1895. However, it must have been known before, as the pioneer traveler R.W. Reynolds notices in 1860 cool drinks in the taverns of Dalles City during summer. They were cooled with ice from Guler Ice Caves. And there is even the story of American natives, who stored there huckleberries in the cave.

Later, in 1928, an opening was blasted out, a stair constructed, and a house built above the entrance. Inside the cave a framework, a long series of racks for storing food was constructed. The racks were covered from dripping water by a wooden roof construction. At this time, the cave was owned by W.H. Dean of White Salmon and Charles Coate of Husum. Managed by Mr Christian Guler, they experimented in using the cave as a cold storage. Yakima potatoes, cheese, apples, and even strawberries were stored in the cave. The forest service was experimenting with dried fruits. One idea was to store the harvest of the apple growers from White Salmon in the cave, and to install an conveyor belt to transport them. The whole business based on the idea that it is cheaper to haul goods to the cave than to pay for artificial refrigeration.

An article from The Sportsman's Guide, published by the Mt. Adams Fish & Game Association in 1939, tells us that this never happened. The cold storage never was an success and the caves remained open for the general public, at least most of the year. It seems transport was never cheaper than artificial cooling.