Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument Travel Guide

  • Silver Lake
    Silver Lake
    by Basaic
  • Mount St Helens
    Mount St Helens
    by Basaic
  • Mount Saint Helens from Loowit Viewpoint
    Mount Saint Helens from Loowit Viewpoint
    by Ewingjr98

Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument Things to Do

  • Summit of Johnson Ridge

    The summit of Johnson Ridge, which is part of the Johnson Ridge Observatory and its trail system, features a circular guide that looks a bit like a sun dial. In reality, it is actually a guide to many of the surrounding peaks and features.Naturally, the summit provides a view in pretty much all directions.One of the nice features of this...

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  • Johnson Ridge Observatory Trails

    Johnson Ridge has a lot of features, including a nature program. One of its features is a paved loop trail that goes to the summit of Johnson Ridge. Walking on these trails requires a visitors fee payment, and is part of the Johnson Ridge and Coldwater Ridge visitor's entrance fee.This section of the trail is paved, and forms a loop from the...

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  • Elk Rock Viewpoint

    Highway 504 has a number of viewpoints along it. These may be just wide spots in the road, or like Elk Rock they may be official viewpoints with parking areas. Along highway 504 this is the first viewpoint that is actually part of the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, as the land to the west of here is Weyerhaeuser commercial logging land,...

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  • Boundary Trail: Johnson Ridge to Devil's...

    Devil's Elbow offers a view of the new Spirit Lake. On a clear day, Mt. Adams is visible in the distance as well. The trail that goes there is the Boundary Trail, and it runs from Johnson Ridge Observatory to the Windy Ridge Road (forest service #99). The trail is mostly narrow and during weekends has quite a number of people on it. Due to the...

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  • Coldwater Lake Picnic and Trail Area

    While the trails that run the circumference of Coldwater Lake are dirt and fairly long, the main access point for Coldwater Lake has paved trails that are wheelchair accessible as well as boardwalks and observation points over the lake. There are two parking areas arranged on a loop, and the first one has a series of picnic tables in the shade...

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  • Coldwater Lake

    Created completely new from debris dams and water runoff during the May 1980 eruption, Coldwater Lake was originally a very muddy mess that smelled of decaying material and sulfur gas from the eruption. Today, it has cleared up, and is in fact it is a true gem in the area.There is a loop trail that runs approximately around the lake, but runs along...

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  • Hummocks Trail

    This 2.5 mile loop through the severely altered landscape of the Toutle River Valley explores the Hummocks landscape and ecosystems.Hummocks are mounds that were formed when the volcano and flood altered the landscape. The resulting form around the debris clusters are various mounds and ponds. Slowly, the ponds over time develop drainage routes,...

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  • Loowit Viewpoint

    Named after one of the early names of Mt. St. Helens, the Loowit Viewpoint has paved walkways to the edge of the bluff overlooking the remains of the Toutle River below. It also links with the Boundary Trail, which connects this viewpoint to Coldwater Lake. This trail is not paved.Other than the parking lot and the paved viewpoints, there isn't...

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  • Coldwater Ridge Science Center is OPEN

    One of the tourist sites that claims to represent what is going on in the Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument is wrong when it comes to the Coldwater Ridge Visitors Center. It was not permanently closed in 2007 due to federal budget cuts. It was mothballed for a time starting in 2007, but it was reoponed in 2012. It is open to the public...

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  • Mount Saint Helens Visitors Center

    Soon after the eruption of Mount Saint Helens, the National Forest Service decided to capitalize on the event and installed a small visitor's center in a trailer on the edge of Silver Lake, and essentially in the boundaries of Seaquest State Park. The location was selected because:1) The mountain was still very active, and this was considered a...

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  • Treehouse Island Zip Line Adventures

    Had a blast at Treehouse Island. It started off with a boat ride out to the island with a beautiful view of Mt. St. Helen's. Then the friendly zip line guides took us on a zip tour that included zip lines, rope bridges, ladders, etc. We had some time on the island to check out the trails and the treehouse before our boat ride back to the mainland....

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  • Johnson Ridge Observatory is Only...

    At the close of the 2007 season, the Johnson Ridge observatory closed due to lack of federal funding for continued operation. All photos are from a 2004 visit. However, after some extensive efforts it was funded again and is now open on a regular basis. However, as it is at fairly high altitude it is only open during the season that Highway 504 is...

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Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument Restaurants

  • sunnywong's Profile Photo

    by sunnywong Written Dec 11, 2003

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    Good spot to enjoy your lunch and the view of the volcano at the same time. Sincerely advise: keep everything in arm reach otherwise they will blow away by strong wind. Thats why this place called Windy Ridge.

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    • National/State Park

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Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument Transportation

  • The Drive to Johnston Ridge

    From the west, State Route 504, also known as Spirit Lake Highway, follows the Toutle River up to the Johnston Ridge Observatory which is the closest drivable overlook at Mount Saint Helens. This spectacular 50 mile drive offers stunning views of the volcano and its devastation, still plainly visible almost 30 years after it erupted. This area has...

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  • Driving there is easy.

    I rented a car in Seattle for my week long journey to San Francisco. Having a car made a detour to Mount Saint Helens, on the way from Seattle to Portland, an easy proposition. From the north, I exited I5 at exit 63 or 60 (I can't quite remember now) and drove through the attractive little township called Toledo and down road numbered 505. Coming...

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  • Spirit Lake Memorial Highway

    The highway leading to Mount Saint Helens had to be completely rebuilt. The new road was named in honor of the former Spirit Lake, now nearly covered in lava and ash and filled with dead trees, unable to support any life forms. The Spirit Lake Memorial Highway passes the three main visitors centers and detours to other points of interest, such as...

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Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument Local Customs

  • goingsolo's Profile Photo

    by goingsolo Written Jun 4, 2006

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    Legend and folklore surrounds Mount Saint Helens. As the story goes, the Loowit, an old crone, once inhabited the Mountain. The Old Loowit kept a fire burning bright on the mountain. As a result, she was transformed into a beautiful woman. Those of you familiar with Greek mythology can guess what happened next. Two Chiefs fought for the now fair lady. The powers that be (aka, the Gods) became angry and transformed the chiefs and the loowit into mountains. The loowit is now the sometimes angry volcano subject to eruption.

    excerpted from mtsainthelens.net

    Mount Saint Helens Volcanic National Monument
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Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument Warnings and Dangers

  • National Monument Day Pass is Required

    Visiting the Mt. St. Helens National Monument area requires an assortment of passes, depending on the area that you wish to visit. Coldwater Lake Recreation Area as well as Johnson Ridge requires the purchase of a $8 per person (under 16 free) day pass for the national monument. (It should be noted, however, that Coldwater Ridge Center itself is...

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  • Watch Out! Long Way Down and Won't...

    There are a number of hazardous trails in the northwest, but those at Mt. St. Helens have a particular set of hazards as once you start to fall, there isn't anything to try to grab on to. Anything of substance was blown away: trees, bushes, and even rocks. The gravel ash surface will do nothing to stop you even if you dig in. Once you reach the end...

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  • Pets are Only Legal in Some Areas

    There have been many problems with pets in various places, and in the Mount Saint Helens National Monument there are an assortment of reasons why they are not allowed in most areas of the monument. As seen in the signs, there are very well marked areas for pet exercise.However, if you go out on many of the trails, you will not be allowed to take...

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Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument Tourist Traps

  • Johnston Ridge Observatory

    Johnston Ridge Observatory has some of the best views of the crater, but it is also the few places in the park with a fee. Do you think your National Parks Pass is good at a "Volcanic National Monument?" Nah... Do you think they tell you about this fee at the visitors center before you take the long drive? Nah... How about even walking into the...

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  • JOHNSON RIDGE VISITORS CENTER

    For many, the Johnson Ridge Visitor Center (JRVC) is the quick ‘been there, done that’ covering Mt St Helens. At some 4,255 Feet / 1,297 Meters the JRVC is set amidst the devastation of the Blast Zone and offers a great view of the inner crater and lava dome. For the traveler who only has one day … well, OK. You also get a nice high point from...

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  • Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument Hotels

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Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument What to Pack

  • Amazonka's Profile Photo

    by Amazonka Updated Apr 4, 2011

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Luggage and bags: backpack

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: good hiking boots, waterproof jacket, sunglasses, hat, sweater, fleece jacket, gloves, neckerchief, long pants

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: first aid kitplasters, sunscreen,

    Photo Equipment: camera is a must, but be careful in sand storms at the top. Certainly do not change a film there. If you do so, your camera will be full of fine sand and you'll ruin your camera

    Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: tent, sleeping bag, space blanket, flashlight, pocket knife, map and compass

    Miscellaneous: plenty of water (4 l), dried fruit, nuts, fresh fruit, snacks, lunch, sandwich

    climbing permit

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    • Hiking and Walking

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Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument Off The Beaten Path

  • Johnson Ridge: Memorial Viewpoint to...

    If you continue past the summit of Johnson Ridge on the paved trails going downhill to the east, just before the paved trail turns back and heads back to the northwest, you will come across this monument viewpoint to those who were killed in the eruption. It is a simple rock wall with the named engraved in the top railing.Johnson Ridge itself is...

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  • Silver Lake Trail at Mt St. Helens...

    If you wander towards the rear of the Mount Saint Helens Visitor's Center, past the bathrooms and towards the water, you will find that a one mile loop trail has been constructed. This trail allows views of Mount Saint Helens (during good weather) and wildlife that uses the lake.Part of the trail is gravel, and part of it is boardwalk. Much of it...

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  • Mt. Rainier National Park

    North of Mount St. Helens, but within easy driving distance is Mt. Rainier and Mt. Rainier National Park. Unbeknownst to some, Mt. Rainier itself is another "sleeping" volcano in the same Cascade Mountain range as Mts. Adams, Baker and Hood. Mt. Rainier is one of the highest mountains in America, rising to 14, 411 ft. and trailing Mt. McKinley by...

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Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument Favorites

  • Useful websites for Mt. St. Helens

    Map of Gifford Pinchot Forest and routes to Mt. St. Helenshttp://www.fs.fed.us/gpnf/04maps/documents/gpnf-forest-vicinity-map-20080730_11x17_000.pdfUSGS Interactive Maphttp://vulcan.wr.usgs.gov/Volcanoes/MSH/NatMonument/PointsInterest/map_msh_points_interest.htmlRoad map to Mt. St....

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  • Useful websites for Mt. St. Helens

    Map of Gifford Pinchot Forest and routes to Mt. St. Helenshttp://www.fs.fed.us/gpnf/04maps/documents/gpnf-forest-vicinity-map-20080730_11x17_000.pdfUSGS Interactive Maphttp://vulcan.wr.usgs.gov/Volcanoes/MSH/NatMonument/PointsInterest/map_msh_points_interest.htmlRoad map to Mt. St....

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  • Mount Saint Helens Visitors Center

    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...

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