The area surrounding Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument offers several different views of the volcano and activities to enjoy. Take a minute to read through the information below and gain a better idea of the layout of the land surrouding the active volcano.
Mount Saint Helens is an active volcano, and as such is protected to maintain an extensive research area. The caldera is closed to hiking, as the threat of eruption continues with steam and ash continually being released. It is possible to hike or mountain bike around the perimeter of the volcano, and with a climbing permit, to scramble to the crater rim. Climbing permits are occasionally suspended depending on volcano activity, so it is best to inquire locally for conditions.
Several observatories around the volcano have been created to provide an up-close examination and exploration of the 1980 eruption, and the subsequent recovery.
- Silver Lake Visitor Center - Just 5 miles east of I-5, this center introduces visitors to the Mount Saint Helens story. Visitors can enjoy the distant view of the smoking volcano, and explore the Silver Lake wetlands, created by an ancient eruption.
- Johnston Ridge Observatory - Located in the heart of the blast zone, this state-of-the-art education center displays the transformation of the surrounding landscape, and the current science and understanding of volcanoes.
- Coldwater Ridge - Coldwater Lake was essentially created by the eruption of Mt. St. Helens, and is illustrated by a short interpretative trail. The nearby Coldwater Ridge Visitor Center features a video theatre, exhibits, and a small cafe.