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 Highlights

  • Pro
    mtncorg profile photo

    mtncorg says…

     Earth's Power on Display; Unique wilderness 

  • Con
    Geoff_Wright profile photo

    Geoff_Wright says…

     You will need more time here than you think - plan well ahead 

  • In a nutshell
    mtncorg profile photo

    mtncorg says…

     Yin Yang on a Grand World Scale 

Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument Things to Do

  • 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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  • Mt. St. Helens Visitor Center ~ Silver...

    There are at least 3 entrances into the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument Park area. We drove into the park on Highway 504, which itself is quite a distance from the main road of Rt. /Interstate 5. You will find that there are several visitor centers along Highway 504, and several observation points along this route. You must purchase a...

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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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  • Coldwater Ridge Visitor Center

    For fantastic, panoramic views of Mt. St. Helens and the surrounding parklands, take time to stop at the "Coldwater Ridge Visitor Center." The side of the building facing Mount St. Helens is virtually a wall of glass! This modern, new center also offers a video-wall theater program, interpretive exhibits, a staffed information desk, gift & book...

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  • Johnston Ridge Observatory - Part 1

    The Johnston Ridge Observatory is named in honor of David A. Johnston, a U.S. Geological Survey volcanologist who was on duty at the Coldwater II observation post that fateful day in May, 1982, and one of the 57 people who lost their lives in the 1982 eruption. The Johnston Observatory was the 3rd visitor center to be constructed in the Mount St....

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  • The Many Faces of Mount St. Helens

    If you plan to be in the Seattle area, your trip there would be incomplete without a visit to the "Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument." Only a couple hours south of Seattle, Mount St. Helens is a sight you won't soon forget. In 1982, the U.S. Congress designated 110,000 acres of forest and lakes surrounding the volcano as a national park...

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  • Forest Learning Center

    Our next stop was the Forest Learning Center. This was so educational. It was sponsored by Weyerhauser so it is definitely biased. But we needed to stop here in order to understand the regrowth of the forest, to learn what it took to salvage the blown down trees and replant. Then traveling through those replanted mountains to the edge of the...

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  • Hoffstadt Bluffs Visitor Center

    Cowlitz County owns this facility and considered closing or selling it for awhile. They decided to close it over the winter for renovations and it reopened in Spring 2009. We felt this was a great place to stop for the first real good look at the volcano. It is a beautifully built building with a wonderful view of the valley. It was built at the...

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  • Johnston Ridge Observatory ~ Part 2

    The Johnston Ridge Observatory is also a state-of-the-art center featuring interpretive displays, eyewitness accounts, a wide-screen theater presentation, and an awesome viewing area inside and out. A half-mile walk on the "Eruption Trail" will give you a good idea of the way the eruption changed the landscape over this area. Staffers will gladly...

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  • Survival and Rebirth!

    Despite the devastation that occured on May 18, 1980, some plants and animals did survive the lehars and the lateral blasts. Pocket gophers, fish and salamanders were protected because of their burrows, because of hibernation or because of ice covered lakes.Today, some animal populations such as the Roosevelt elk have returned in greater numbers...

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  • Mt. Saint Helens

    Dude. This was so much better than I thought it would be, (and I thought it would be pretty cool). 131 on the east side of the park then on 99 to the best view of the mountain. You go through a large area where the forest took the impact of the 1980 eruption. You get a good look at Spirit Lake that must be filled with hundreds of thousands of dead...

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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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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

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    Mount Saint Helens Volcanic National Monument

    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

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    • Arts and Culture
    • National/State Park

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Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument Warnings and Dangers

  • Trail closures

    Many of the trails, especially those closest to the mountain, were closed as of May, 2006, due to volcanic activity. Climbing to the summit, or what's left of it, is not permitted at this time. I visited on May 28, 2006 and, two days later, heard about reports of an earthquake. It may be tempting to ignore these warnings and trek onward in search...

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  • LOOWIT TRAIL WASHOUTS

    The Forest Service tells you the Loowit trail is closed across the North Side - the Blast Zone - because of potential volcanic activity. They don’t tell you of the other areas where the trail is washed away. Going north from the South Fork of the Toutle combines a wet crossing with plenty of ash and possibly washed away trail. Crossing the Swift...

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  • TRAIL CONDITIONS

    Early in the season, snows can lie deep along trails making the way treacherous without the use of special tools. Later in the season, winds blow the dry sands into your face and clothes. Be very careful with digital cameras - any cameras! Climbing is cancelled for the moment because of volcanic activity. The Loowit Trail, a very popular trail...

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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 What to Pack

  • Amazonka's Profile Photo

    by Amazonka Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    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

    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking

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Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument Off The Beaten Path

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

    If you wanter 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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