We spent three days at Mount St Helens. We picked up a campsite at Seaquest Campground. It was a well-maintained campground with fire pits, showers with bathrooms for the low low price of $42 a night. Even with the price, it was a good place to stay. It was an hour drive to the Johnson Ridge Observatory.
There are two major inroads to get into the monument. One from the north and one from the south. Both are off I-5. The Johnson Ridge Observatory, off Hwy 504, from the north, is the most popular. I thought there would be a big dome, but it is not that kind of observatory. This is the north side of the mountain with a view into the horseshoe caldera. The history and the movie showing the eruption July 10, 2008, is here. A massive debris avalanche reduced the elevation of the round mountain summit of 9677 feet to an 8363-foot high, mile-wide horseshoe-shaped crater. There are new domes in the crater and a glacier surrounding the largest new one.
Farther north along I-5, out route 12, is access to Windy Ridge viewpoint with another view into the crater, but we did not do the three-hour drive to see it with the haze in the air. One can access this view from the southern route off Hwy 503.
The southern access to Mount St Helens has campsites, caves, and hikes. Along with more moderate hikes, a five-mile strenuous hike to the new summit is an option. Hikes above 4600 feet require a permit.
On our first day, we hiked a little of Coldwater Lake. It formed after the 1980 eruption blocked the Coldwater Creek. One can hike a seven-mile loop around the lake. We strolled out on the wooden plank path to get views across the lake but did not hike the loop. I was more interested in seeing the caldera. We continued on to Johnson Ridge Observatory. We watched the movie and I recommend it. I won’t spoil the surprise, don’t leave early.
For the rest of the blog and some fantastic pictures follow the link: