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Johnston Ridge Observatory

Toutle, WA
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Private Tour
and up
Mount St Helens Day Trip from Seattle
Ranked #1 of 6 Attractions in Toutle
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Type: Observatories/ Planetariums, Tourist/ Visitor Centers, Landmarks
Activities: Leisure education
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Attraction details
Owner description: A small observatory poised dramatically on a cliff overlooking the debris left over from the famous 1980 volcano explosion.
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132 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
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English first
Top Contributor
328 reviews 328 reviews
93 attraction reviews
100 helpful votes 100 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 19, 2014

Went with family in October 2014. Be prepared for the slightly thinner air if you are from the Midwest. Had a nice semi clear day. Neat experience to walk through a cloud on the trail. If you are going to do the 12 miles hike I would take snacks and water. Park rangers patrol the area but are not super... More

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Hawthorne, NJ
Senior Contributor
44 reviews 44 reviews
21 attraction reviews
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 26, 2014

Magnificent place to visit! The Observatory features multimedia exhibits, and a couple of movies for those who are interested. Examples of the types of volcanic rocks were present, and panels with descriptions of some of the people and places that both survived and didn't survive told vivid stories of that May day were as moving as informative. The view itself... More

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Cary, North Carolina
Senior Contributor
21 reviews 21 reviews
5 attraction reviews
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 25, 2014

Observatory is fantastic. Awesome view ... great exhibits ... Rangers were helpful and informative. Cost was $8 when I went. Attended 2 movies ... 1 Ranger exhibition ... and viewed all the exhibits. Spent probably 3 ~ 4 hours doing everything. View is AMAZING ... hiking and walking outside just shows you how powerful nature is. Easy to get to... More

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Palo Alto, California
Top Contributor
178 reviews 178 reviews
67 attraction reviews
492 helpful votes 492 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 24, 2014

Mt. St. Helens has several visitor centers and vista points. The two most popular (due to easiest access and most advertisements and signage) are both along WA-504, east of the Castle Rock exit on I-5. The first one you come to is the Mt St. Helens Visitor Center by Silver Lake (6.9 miles -12 minutes - from I-5) and is... More

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Hillsboro, Oregon
Top Contributor
81 reviews 81 reviews
31 attraction reviews
30 helpful votes 30 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 13, 2014

This place is the crown jewel of the monument. If you are visiting the north side of Mt. Saint Helens, this is a must see place even though it is about 50 miles from I-5. Stop at the first visitor center in Silver Lake to get weather conditions. The JRO is built into the side of a mountain and looks... More

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Arlington, Virginia
5 reviews 5 reviews
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 5, 2014

My first visit - wow, so glad that I made this trip. I found out that there are different approaches and different Mt. St. Helen's visitor's centers. Call ahead as Johnston closes in bad weather. Johnston Ridge Observatory is not close to the main highway at all, and it is a full day trip from Olympia, Washington. Bring your own... More

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Denver, Colorado
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
12 attraction reviews
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 28, 2014

This observatory is immediately across from the crater. On a clear day the view is spectacular. Definitely see the movie and attend a ranger talk or two. There is great hiking so leave plenty of time for that. No water or food.

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Springfield, Oregon
Senior Contributor
32 reviews 32 reviews
7 attraction reviews
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 24, 2014

What an amazing place! To see what has come back after 34 years and what is still highly effected by the blast of Mt St Helens. This was a beautiful drive, informational in the presentations and movies and just to see all that has been touched by nature..... We really enjoyed our time here and would love to go back... More

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Portland, Oregon
16 reviews 16 reviews
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed September 22, 2014

Interesting piece of local history. You have to pay to go into the observatory - which I didn't do and probably missed out, but the group I was with wasn't planning on staying long. They also have a trail that must go out to another viewpoint but no joke, you have to pay to walk down it. I wandered around... More

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Everett, WA
Top Contributor
135 reviews 135 reviews
66 attraction reviews
98 helpful votes 98 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 14, 2014

We took family from Canada up to see the volcano and stand on Johnston Ridge. 34 years after the blast and the devastation is still quite obvious. It is also interesting how much wild life and vegetation has returned. It is definitely a worthwhile trip, even though it's more than a 2 hr drive from Seattle and there is a... More

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