Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument Favorites

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    Useful websites for Mt. St. Helens

    by maryellen50 Written Aug 12, 2008
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    Favorite thing: Map of Gifford Pinchot Forest and routes to Mt. St. Helens
    http://www.fs.fed.us/gpnf/04maps/documents/gpnf-forest-vicinity-map-20080730_11x17_000.pdf

    USGS Interactive Map
    http://vulcan.wr.usgs.gov/Volcanoes/MSH/NatMonument/PointsInterest/map_msh_points_interest.html

    Road map to Mt. St. Helens
    http://www.fs.fed.us/gpnf/04maps/documents/MonumentTearmapFinalweb-2007.pdf

    Mt. St. Helens Institute
    http://www.mshinstitute.org/

    Fondest memory: The beauty of the area including the volcano contrasted to the extreme destruction still evident after 20 years!

    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking
    • National/State Park
    • Family Travel

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  • maryellen50's Profile Photo

    Useful websites for Mt. St. Helens

    by maryellen50 Written Aug 12, 2008
    4 more images

    Favorite thing: Map of Gifford Pinchot Forest and routes to Mt. St. Helens
    http://www.fs.fed.us/gpnf/04maps/documents/gpnf-forest-vicinity-map-20080730_11x17_000.pdf

    USGS Interactive Map
    http://vulcan.wr.usgs.gov/Volcanoes/MSH/NatMonument/PointsInterest/map_msh_points_interest.html

    Road map to Mt. St. Helens
    http://www.fs.fed.us/gpnf/04maps/documents/MonumentTearmapFinalweb-2007.pdf

    Mt. St. Helens Institute
    http://www.mshinstitute.org/

    Fondest memory: The beauty of the area including the volcano contrasted to the extreme destruction still evident after 20 years!

    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • National/State Park
    • Hiking and Walking

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  • goingsolo's Profile Photo

    Mount Saint Helens Visitors Center

    by goingsolo Written Jun 2, 2006

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Mount Saint Helens Volcanic National Monument

    Favorite thing: You'll find the Mount Saint Helens Visitor's Center right after you come off the highway on the northern side of the mountain. Of the three main visitor's centers, this is the farthest from the "blast zone" and has the least impressive views of the mountain. But its a worthwhile stop to browse the exhibits in the visitor's center. There is a walk through volcano exhibit and park rangers on hand to explain the events which took place.

    There is a short trail that leads through marshland, which didn't sound appealing, so I skipped it. I was drawn towards the flower bushes planted near the visitor's center and the memorial just beyond. As you drive closer to the mountain, the damage becomes more and more apparent, and is not as visible in this area. This is due, in part, to the massive restoration and replanting efforts that took place following the eruption.

    You need to purchase a pass to enter any of the visitor's centers. As of May, 2006, the cost was $3 to visit one center and $8 for all 3.

    Related to:
    • Eco-Tourism
    • National/State Park

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    See the devastation

    by sswagner Written Jan 25, 2005

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    Devastation

    Favorite thing: It is natural to have ones eyes fixed on the mountain itself as you get closer and closer to it. The moonscape itself is a sight to behold. In many areas, you will see the remains of the trees that were destroyed where they stood as the blast arrived. Note that most of the trees point away from the mountain. In some areas, they look like matchsticks on the slopes. Some vegetation has returned to the slopes around the volcano, but it will take a lot of time before the forest itself returns.

    One interesting fact I learned here was that the blast was heard around the state, but not in the close proximity of the volcano due to the way that the sound waves were produced. If you were that close, you would not hear anything nor would you feel anything. You would see a cloud of ash moving at a breakneck speed on its way to vaporize anything that stood in its path. Fortunately, not too many people were in the "quiet" zone.

    Fondest memory: Seeing the effect that the earth's geologic forces has had on this land.

    Related to:
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    • Hiking and Walking
    • National/State Park

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  • Geoff_Wright's Profile Photo

    Road's End

    by Geoff_Wright Updated Feb 3, 2004

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    Favorite thing: Well, this is as far as the highway will take you, to the Observatory. It's about 52 miles from here to I-5, at Castle Rock.

    Prior to the eruption on 18th May, 1980, the summit of Mount St Helens stood at 9,766 feet.

    After the explosion the highest point of the Mountain is 8,365 feet.


    After the blast of 18th May 1980, volcanic activity at Mount St. Helens declined significantly. Smaller explosive eruptions continued throughout the remainder of the year, with a final eruption in early 1982. Most of the ash from these eruptions blew eastward, but on two occasions winds carried some ash westward into the heavily populated Columbia River valley. A volcanic dome was formed on the floor of the central crater by a series of small lava eruptions, the last of these occurring in 1986. Minor steam explosions continued into the early 1990s. Current activity consists of the occasional rumble of small earthquakes, but the situation could alter at any time. Today, Mount St. Helens is once again slumbering, but the sleep is fitful, and the Scientists believe that it is only a matter of time before the 'Fire Mountain' awakes again.

    The next volcanic activity in the area is forecast to be Mount Rainier, in Washington State! Hold on to your hat, Seattle!!

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  • Geoff_Wright's Profile Photo

    Mount St Helens

    by Geoff_Wright Updated Feb 3, 2004

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    Favorite thing: The distance between each edge of the crater is approximately 1 and a quarter miles!

    The May 18th eruption may have appeared to be large and very destructive, but it was relatively small compared with earlier eruptions, as confirmed by the thick deposits of older volcanic rock around Mount St. Helens. This is only one of several volcanoes to be found in the Cascade Range, from northern California to southern Canada. All these volcanoes grew in the same geologic setting and are of the same explosive type as Mount St. Helens. Some eruptions at other Cascade volcanoes have been huge, such as the explosion nearly 7000 years ago that reduced Mount Mazama to today's Crater lake, and spread ash across the whole of the United States. That explosion was 100 times the size of Mount St Helens!

    Scientists predict that volcanic eruptions ranging in size from Mount St Helens to the Mazama blast could occur at any time at any of the Cascade volcanoes.

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  • Geoff_Wright's Profile Photo

    Mountain or Monument?

    by Geoff_Wright Updated Feb 3, 2004

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    Favorite thing: This view, taken from one of the Viewing Centres, shows Mount St Helens, 5 miles distance.

    %
    Besides the enormous ash cloud that stayed near the ground, millions of tons of fine ash were forced high into the atmosphere, in excess of 50 thousand feet, and carried hundreds and thousands of miles downwind. These poisonous clouds dropped several inches of ash over many communities and agricultural areas, destroying machinery and crops.

    Losses to property and crops were estimated at more than $1.8 billion. The impact on human life could have been much greater had the main eruption occurred on a workday, rather than a Sunday, or if the blast had been directed to the Southwest toward the Portland/Vancouver metropolitan area, 45 miles away, or if the wind had been blowing toward the southwest. Fortunately, for most, the mass of superheated steam and ash blasted upward and outward over the top of the avalanche, roaring to the north and west at speeds reaching hundreds of miles an hour

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  • Geoff_Wright's Profile Photo

    Crater and Lake

    by Geoff_Wright Updated Feb 3, 2004

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    Favorite thing:
    The sleeping giant began to awake from its slumber in March 1980, with a series of steam explosions and bursts of ash. Following the initial outbursts, the mountain was monitored closely by seismologists and volcanologists. Small earthquakes and tremors accompanied the outbursts, indicating that fresh lava was being intruded into the mountain's heart. Gigantic cracks apperard at the summit and in the mountain's sides, and the whole of the northern face expanded outward some 450 feet. Many non-scientists looked upon this initial activity as a 'minor' incident, and despite official warnings that the mountail and its surroundings had been designated as a dangerous 'Red Zone', tourists swarmed to the area, evading the overworked Rangers, to get a closer view of the spectacular natural 'fireworks'. Residents and workers in the area were advised to leave, but many refused, claiming that they 'knew the mountain'. Several camps were established by Volcanologists in order to monitor the mountain's activity, some being perilously close to the mountian in order to provide the necessary data.

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    VTer Phildeni and Mount St Helens

    by Geoff_Wright Updated Feb 3, 2004

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    Favorite thing: To the uninitiated, the serenity of the mountain and its surroundings was misleading. Mount St. Helens was known by local Indians as "Fire Mountain," and even they were reluctant to approach the mountain despite the plentiful amount of game in the area. To the experienced observer, the conical shape and composition of the mountain's rocks were confirmation enough that Mount St. Helens was, in fact, a volcano. Evidence of previous lava flows and multiple layers of ash (powdered volcanic rock) could be found everywhere, even though trees had re-established themselves following the numerous prior eruptions. Volcanic deposits had reshaped the entire region around the mountain, and a huge mudflow that raced down the mountain some 3000 years ago, backed up a stream which eventually created the beautiful Spirit lake, which today is maintained at a level of 3,445 feet.

    Here we see VT member Phil (phildeni) admiring the view of Mount St Helens, about 25 miles distant, from Coldwater Creek Bridge.

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  • Geoff_Wright's Profile Photo

    Mount St Helens from Coldwater Creek

    by Geoff_Wright Updated Feb 3, 2004

    4 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: Mount St. Helens was intermittently active between 1832 and 1857. These small eruptions were not enough to deter habitation of the area by settlers from the East. The mountain became dormant for the next century or so and during this time the small settlements became towns, and towns became metropolitan centres such as Portland and Seattle. These new neighbours of Mount St. Helens knew only the mountain at rest, and its violent past was largely ignored or forgotten.

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  • Geoff_Wright's Profile Photo

    From the Valley Floor

    by Geoff_Wright Updated Feb 3, 2004

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    Favorite thing:
    Shortly after the outrush of the avalanche and ash cloud, enormous mudflows, formed when the glacial ice and snow that had capped the mountain were melted by the intense heat and mixed with the powdered and fragmented rock created by the eruption, slid off the mountain. The resulting hot and cold masses of mud poured down adjacent river valleys at speeds in excess of 80 miles an hour, sweeping away everything in its path; buildings, vehicles, trees, and bridges. One such flow even blocked the shipping channel of the Columbia River, 55 miles downstream.

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  • Geoff_Wright's Profile Photo

    The Forest Learning Center

    by Geoff_Wright Updated Feb 3, 2004

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing:

    Celebrate the Return of the forest to Mount St Helens

    The center details the impact that the eruption had on the largest private landowner in the surrounding forest--Weyerhauser. The Center is located 33 miles east of Interstate 5 on Highway 504 (Spirit Lake Memorial Highway), and attracts more than 200,000 visitors every year.*

    Exhibits include a virtual chopper tour, eruption chamber multi-media program, and kids exhibits.

    The Learning Center is open daily from mid-May until the end of October. Admission is free.

    You can write to the Centre at:

    PO Box 188
    Longview WA 98632

    Voice Phone
    360-414-3439

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  • Geoff_Wright's Profile Photo

    Grow by the inch, Killed by the Foot!

    by Geoff_Wright Updated Feb 3, 2004

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    Favorite thing: During the violent eruptions, two hundred and thirty-two square miles of forest were destroyed, including three billion board feet of timber with an estimated commercial value of $400 million.

    When you cross the edge of the Blast Zone at Hoffstadt Creek Bridge you won't notice the effects of the devastation at first, for over the past 20 years or so, the forests have been replanted. However, as you drive closer to the Mountain, you will begin to notice dramatic changes in the landscape. Firstly, in place of the lush, young green trees, you will see stunted and broken trees on the lee side (that facing away from the blast), and thousands of flattened and uprooted trees on the windward side of the slopes. Later on you will see no trees at all, just the mangled and twisted stumps amongst the millions of tons of rock and volcanic debris.

    So, take heed of this little sign:

    Plants Grow by the inch, and die by the Foot!

    Keep to the authorised trails and paths.

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  • Geoff_Wright's Profile Photo

    Johnston Ridge Observatory

    by Geoff_Wright Updated Feb 3, 2004

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing:

    52.5 miles from I-5 is the Johnston Ridge Observatory. Here you will find the best trail for seeing the seven wonders, which begins at the southeast corner of the parking area, which accommodates 350 cars, 50 RVs and 20 buses.

    Fondest memory: Johnston Ridge was closed for the winter on Sunday, October 26, 2003.

    Summer Hours: Open Daily, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm

    Daily admittance to one visitor center is $3 per adult and $1 for youth ages 5 to 15. Admittance to all visitor centers costs $6 per adult and $2 for youth. (2003 prices)

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  • Geoff_Wright's Profile Photo

    Volcanic Watelands

    by Geoff_Wright Updated Feb 3, 2004

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    Favorite thing: Every living thing within about 10 miles of the north side of the volcano - trees and vegitation, and humans, including scientists and laymen,- was doomed. A number of people hesitated for a while in order to take a few quick pictures, then, realizing their situation, most ran or tried to drive away from the approaching cloud of dust and superheated steam. The near-supersonic lateral blast of rock, ash, and hot gas engulfed the area with a force sufficient to strip huge trees bare and uproot or break them off at ground level. The temperature within the cloud reached 500ºF, sufficient to kill every living creature it came into contact with, and to cause serious burns to humans and animals many miles from the actual volcano. The avalanche of rock and mud roared over Spirit Lake and the valley of the North Fork of the Toutle River, burying them under layers of rock, mud and ash up to 600 hundred feet thick. The loss to human life was put at 57.

    Strangely enough, whilst writing this page, there was a programme on UK TV about 'Natural Disasters', and one of these recounted the eruption of Mount St Helens. I had seen a similar programme before, but this time, when I saw those mudslides, it meant something very different to me this time.

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