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Johnston Ridge Observatory

Toutle, WA
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Ranked #1 of 5 Attractions in Toutle
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Type: Observatories/ Planetariums, Tourist/ Visitor Centers
Activities: Leisure education
Description: A small observatory poised dramatically on a cliff overlooking the debris left over from the famous 1980 volcano explosion.
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115 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
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English first
Portland, Oregon
Top Contributor
408 reviews 408 reviews
59 attraction reviews
227 helpful votes 227 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 18, 2014

We had explored the Toutle River area after the 1981 eruption buried houses and laid the trees out like matchsticks. We had visited the area south of Packwood, but we had not been to the Johnston Ridge Observatory. Curious to see the changes in the landscape, we picked a day that was clear yet cool to drive Hwy 504. We... More

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Top Contributor
107 reviews 107 reviews
46 attraction reviews
32 helpful votes 32 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 17, 2014

Wow! So much more amazing in person that watching video coverage. And the 40 mi. drive in is every bit as fabulous with sev. information stations,and many view points with parking. It's a bit of a drive , but going early AM we avoided traffic, and were treated to watching the fog clear, and at times be below us as... More

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Top Contributor
308 reviews 308 reviews
146 attraction reviews
209 helpful votes 209 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 13, 2014

I was headed to the Johnson Ridge Observatory from the west off I-5 on Highway 504, having stopped at the OR visitor center on a prior day. I continued along the beautiful scenic road for about 25 miles when I saw a sign for the "Forest Learning Center", so I turned off. WOW. What an amazing free center with wonderful... More

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Victoria, Canada
Top Contributor
123 reviews 123 reviews
48 attraction reviews
104 helpful votes 104 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 10, 2014

You are so close to the mountain, it really takes your breath away. , and 34 years later, the vast devastation is still visible, but also visible is nature renewing itself. It's beautiful, immense, striking, sobering and inspiring all at the same time. The centre itself is full of great information, and I would recommend this attraction to anyone. There... More

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Palatine, Illinois
Senior Contributor
31 reviews 31 reviews
10 attraction reviews
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 9, 2014

The enormity of the mountain and vast devastation still evident 34 years later are beyond imagination or description. Couldn't believe how close the center is to the crater--I had to switch from my telescopic lens to my regular lens for photos. We saw two movies--they were interesting but a little heavy on the computer enhancements. (I know there are no... More

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Albany, Oregon
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 6, 2014

We've brought our teenage daughters up 3 times. The scope of the place is immense, impossible to describe.Each ranger has a different angel so ask around. Bring binoculars or a telescope. Very hard to take a bad picture, but difficult to take a great picture. We will have to visit and try again!

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Olympia, Washington
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 attraction reviews
3 of 5 stars Reviewed August 4, 2014

It was okay. Rangers were not worth talking to - couldn't answer basic questions that came up from the film. If it was outside their basic talk they admitted to having no idea. There are some neat exhibits - the quake meter and before-and-after pictures. Placed out of site but along an unused wall we found some science posters from... More

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Hillsboro, Oregon
Senior Contributor
30 reviews 30 reviews
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 3, 2014

I was in Seattle on a trip when this mountain blew. I am almost ashamed that I took this long to visit this place. If you go be prepared for breathtaking scenery on the way up. Make sure if possible that you make it when it is clear so you can get the full scene of the mountain and the... More

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Enid, Oklahoma, United States
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
11 attraction reviews
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 1, 2014

The drive up is so beautiful, you see lots of signs showing planted in the year the trees were planted. You also see lots of ash prairie is the best way to explain it the higher you get. We didn't know it at the time but this was where the ash flow was at and how it ate through the... More

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Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
9 attraction reviews
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 31, 2014

You cannot go wrong with a visit to the observatory. From the history of the mountain to the time lapse of watching nature come back after the eruption. The views from the observatory are second to none!!! The drive up is worth the trip.

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