Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument

The 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens was the most disastrous volcanic eruption in U.S. History. Fifty-seven people lost their lives, hundreds of homes were destroyed, bridges were moved, and miles of railway and highway were torn up. Ash blew all over the Pacific Northwest and as far as the Mideast.

The MSH Natonal Volcanic Monument opened two years after the eruption for research, recreation, and education. What was once a large forested region became a barren, grey landscape. Now almost forty years later, the trees are growing back and wildlife is inhabiting the area.

The first stop to any trip to the Mount St. Helens is the Castle Rock Bakery.

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Once you’ve eaten your apple pie square, you can get started on your drive up the Spirit Lake Memorial Highway. The highway ends at the Johnston Ridge Observatory but there are several stops along the way. We stopped at the Spirit Lake Visitors Center so we could get a map and an idea of what visitor centers were open. We also stopped at the Elk Rock Viewpoint. Make sure you bring your binoculars as there are often Elk sightings in the river valley.

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The next stop was to see Coldwater Lake. This is a beautiful Lake with a paved trail with a boardwalk over the lake. This is one of the lakes that was created after the 1980 eruption.

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After a walk around Coldwater Lake, we made it to the Johnston Observatory. The post about that visit can be found here.

More information

U.S. Forest Service information about Mount St. Helens area



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