Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, Washington

Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, Washington

The volcanic eruption of Mount St. Helens on May 18, 1980 marked the revival of the volcano, which was relatively young at 40,000 years and was last active in 1857. By then, the eruptions of the previous 2,500 years had left fields of ash, lava mounds, and rivers of basalt. The apron-like formations around the base of the mountain later resulted in the stagnation of water and the formation of Spirit Lake. Along the almost 400 m long “Winds of Change Trail” you can see how the wind swept away the rocks that slammed into Coldwater Ridge, turning the forest into a wasteland.

According to lawschoolsinusa, the west side can be reached via the Spirit Lake Memorial Highway. The 83 km route offers views of the North Fork Toutle River landslide and the massive mudslide that buried the highway and valley in 1980. The Johnston Ridge Observatory offers a fantastic panoramic view of the impressive region and the mighty crater.

Access the south side of Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument via State Route 503. Activities include volcano climbing, mountain biking and caving. Forest Road 83 reveals the changes left by the mudslides formed in the 1980s by the melting of glaciers on the southern flank of the volcano.

The east side of the monument provides insights into the mighty forces of nature that have massively changed the landscape here. From forest road 99 you come through magnificent ancient forests and then you reach the region where the volcano destroyed a large part of the tree population. Fallen dead trees in the destroyed forest are silent witnesses to this eruption. But there are also many references to the resurrection. Wind Ridge is also rewarded with fantastic views of Spirit Lake and Mount St. Helens.

Location and Size
The 2,549 m high active volcano Mount St. Helens is located in southern Washington State. The distance to Seattle/Washington is about 160 km, to Portland/Oregon about 80 km as the crow flies. Established in 1982, Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument covers an area of ​​445 km². The US Forest Service is responsible for administration.

by car
From Seattle, take I-5 South, exit 63, proceed through Toledo, continue on Spirit Lake Memorial Highway SR-504 to Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument (about 2.5 hours drive, 250 km) .
From Portland, take I-5 North, exit 49 Castle Rock and continue on SR-504 (about 2 hours drive, 180 km).
At mile marker 52 (Milepost) is the Johnston Ridge Observatory.

Access to the south side is via SR-503 from Woodland. From Cougar you can access forest roads 81, 83 and 90.

Hours of Operation
Most of the monument’s north, east, and south viewpoints can be accessed from Memorial Day (last Monday in May) until snow makes the roads impassable (usually by late October). The trails are normally open from June to October, with lower elevation hiking year-round.

Visitor Centers
Forest Learning Center
Located at mile marker 33 off the SR-504, this is where the most interesting exhibits are located. The eruption room is a special experience. The visitor center also has the best souvenir shop. The center is open daily and entry is free.

Johnston Ridge Observatory ,
Located at the end of SR-504 at mile marker 52. The observatory is named for volcanologist David Johnston. From here, the panoramic view of the mighty crater is fantastic. Highly recommended are the film and the geological exhibition in the observatory. Opening times are daily from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Address: 24000 Spirit Lake Highway, PO Box 326, Toutle, WA 98649

Mount St. Helens Visitor Center at Silver Lake
Located off State Route 504 at mile marker 5, it is the first visitor center encountered after exiting I-5 at Exit 49. The Visitor Center was built in 1993, but the exhibits are a bit dated. The visitor center is operated by the Washington State Parks Department. Opening hours in summer: daily from 09:00 to 17:00. Address: 3029 Spirit Lake Highway, Castle Rock, WA 98611

Entrance fees
Johnston Ridge Observatory $8 per adult, children 15 and under are free; the Forest Learning Center is free.
Mount St. Helens Visitor Center $5 per adult, children 7-17 $2.50.

Lodging, Dining, Entertainment
Some of the most popular motels include the Guest House Inn & Suites and the Super 8. Both are located off I-5 in Kelso, just minutes from the Castle Rock exit. There are restaurants and entertainment venues in the surrounding area.

Seaquest State Park Camping
Located off Spirit Lake Highway (SR-504) 8 km (5 miles) off I-5 near Castle Rock. Camping, hiking trails, hot showers. Adjacent to Mount St. Helens Visitor Center at Silver Lake. Advance reservations are recommended as it is usually full in summer. Tel: (360) 274-8633.

Lewis & Clark State Park
Lewis and Clark State Park is a 62,100 m² campground park with a huge stand of mature trees. Conifers, streams, wetlands, dense vegetation, and wet grasslands dot the landscape of the park. From I-5, take exit 68 and travel east on Highway 12 for approximately 4 km (2.5 miles). On Jackson Hwy. turn right and head south.
It is 3 km (2 miles) to the park entrance.

The weather on Mount St. Helens is typical of the climate in western Washington. It is characterized by warm and dry summers and wet winters. The best time to visit Mount St. Helens is during the warmer months – May to October. From June most hiking trails are free of snow. But it is not unusual if it snows again in July. The higher hiking trails can have snow cover all year round. Summer thunderstorms are not uncommon, visitors should be prepared for very rapid weather changes and possible rain, especially at higher elevations and in remote areas.

Average temperatures in Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument in °C
Month Jan Feb March Apr May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Max 7 9 12 15 19 22 27 27 24 17 10 7
Min 2 2 3 4 8 10 12 12 11 7 4 1

VUSA Tips:


Driving Tours
The SR-504 route is ideal for a day trip from Seattle or Portland. Stop at Mount St. Helens Forest Learning Center for exhibits, moose spotting and the best souvenirs in the area. Drive to the end of the street at the Johnston Ridge Observatory to view exhibits and see the film. Enjoy spectacular views of the volcano as the cinema screen rises. Hike the Truman Trail near Coldwater Lake. On the way back, stop at the 19 Mile House Café for homemade dumplings.

Skamania Lodge Zipline
Slide down the scenic Columbia River Gorge on the unique Canopy Zip Line Tour. There are seven zip lines and three sky bridges. 1131 Skamania Lodge Way Stevenson, WA 98648;

NW Trek ZipLine
Fast, exhilarating and quite a challenge! A high-altitude adventure at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park. The zipline offers a series of challenges that will test mental and physical stamina.

Tree House Island Zipline
Glide from tree to tree in a nature-based zipline park on Tree House Island – located in Silverlake with a view of the volcano.

Hiking is available throughout the Mount St. Helens area. Permits are available at the visitor center. Some tours last less than an hour. But there are also multi-day hikes.

Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, Washington