Guler Ice Caves | Trout Lake. WA

Visiting the ice caves near Trout Lake, Washington has been on my to do list for a long time now. In fact, we attempted a visit last spring but found ourselves stopped with only a mile to go, but impassible roads. Note to everyone: unless you want to snowshoe in about a mile, wait until the snow melts in the spring. You can call the Forest Service to see if the road has been cleared or not.

We were hoping November would work, but ice had formed yet. Maybe for the better since it was already a bit difficult to navigate the cave with kids and would have been even harder with slick ice on the floor.

So -- our story begins with Trout Lake Creek Campground and darkness beginning to fall. We set up tents quickly and got out our headlamps. It was chilly, but we were dressed for it with long underwear and cozy hats. Someone suggested light painting and so here we are!! All it takes is a very long exposure {30 seconds}, a high f-stop and a tripod. This entertained us for more than a few minutes. :)

I wanted to see if we could successfully camp in November, without being too cold at night. Next time I'll wear pants and wool socks in my sleeping bag, but three out of our four slept warm and toasty. I'd call that a success! Morning brought the daily yogurt with flax meal and a few more photos. The boys found some puffball mushrooms to stomp on and discovered that mushrooms are really fun to kick.

This campground is really marvelous -- open all year with vault toilets and beautiful sites next to the creek. Fire-pits and soft, pine-needled tenting spots. Privacy, trees, woodsy lovely. We'd love to come back sometime. The creek would make a perfect swimming hole in the summer, if you don't mind glacier-fed water.

So, yeah -- as you can see, there's no ice in the cave in November. Just rocks. Still fun to explore with kids -- not too big or scary. Pete and Buzz enjoyed having their own lights and climbing around down there. It was enjoyable, even without the ice. To see photos and video of what it looks like in winter and early spring, visit here and here.

Trip Details:
Trout Lake Creek Campground -- just a few miles outside Trout Lake, WA, down Trout Lake Creek Road. You'll see signs and take NF-8810 across the creek and around to the campground. It's gorgeous and remote. Course we were there in November, so we didn't see much of anyone. ;)
Guler Ice Caves -- Easy to find and well-signed. Pretty kid-friendly...just bring bright lights for everyone. These caves aren't super large...100 feet to explore one direction and perhaps 150 feet the other way. The attraction is the ice formations hanging from the ceiling and growing from the floor, which we didn't get to see. March-May is probably a better time to visit. The challenge is getting there by car when the road isn't plowed.