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Johnston Ridge Observatory

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Toutle, WA
+1 360-274-2140
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Small-Group Full-Day Tour of Mount St Helens Volcano from Seattle
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A small observatory poised dramatically on a cliff overlooking the debris left over from the famous 1980 volcano explosion.
  • Excellent79%
  • Very good17%
  • Average2%
  • Poor1%
  • Terrible1%
Travelers talk about
“ranger talk” (17 reviews)
“blast zone” (12 reviews)
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Hours Today: 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Toutle, WA
+1 360-274-2140
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Reviews (352)
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1 - 10 of 352 reviews

Reviewed 1 week ago via mobile

The view is amazing, the film.is, excellent, and the displays are beautifully fine and so informative!

Thank Lyn C
Reviewed 1 week ago

Very popular, minimal visitor center, but the view is fabulous. We stopped all along the road at the overlooks, so this was our final stop and had the best views. LOTS of schoolkids on field trips.

Thank Lola2104
Reviewed 2 weeks ago

The place is well built and works well with crowds of kids. The movie is a must. At the end they move the screen to give you a view of Mt/ St Helens.

Thank adventurous_diner629
Reviewed 2 weeks ago

Much better than the Forest Education Center, which is basically an advertisement for the logging industry. The rangers are helpful,knowledgable and friendly...as always. We did a couple of short trails on the way there,which were beautiful and extremely fascinating

Thank Lotte F
Reviewed 3 weeks ago

Very knowledgeable people. great displays and a great video and great views. Take the short walk to some more views. Didn't have the time, but lots of real hiking trails too.

Thank B138877
Reviewed 3 weeks ago

Lucked out and got a picture perfect day. Here's our itinerary:: 1. Stopped at Coldwater Lake. Picturesque, nice place for a picnic 2. Hiked Hummock Trail. Took over an hour and perfect for even young families. 3. Next stop, Johnston Ridge. There is an $8...More

Thank FGScot
Reviewed 3 weeks ago

Johnston Ridge is the farthest visitor center from I-5, but the closest visitor center to the mountain. While it is more than 50 miles from the interstate, it is well worth the time it takes to drive there. Plus, the drive itself is very scenic...More

Thank County-Hunter
Reviewed 3 weeks ago

Excellent movie and a must see...Don't get up right away. Rangers were very informative. Grand views.

Thank gluvsd1959
Reviewed 3 weeks ago

Great views and right place to take pictures. Information center at the Observatory has lot of interesting information about the volcanoes. 16 min long movie is a must if you are visiting the observatory.

Thank AmarnathPalavalli
Reviewed 4 weeks ago via mobile

One cannot comprehend the magnitude of what happened at Mount St. Helens until there. The observatory places you right in line with the blast, an awesome perspective. The displays help one to better understand what happened, how and why. Rangers and volunteers are available to...More

Thank John G
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Questions & AnswersAsk a question
Morgan B
Did you just go? I've heard that it was closed until May?
April 25, 2017|
Response from Rita J | Reviewed this property |
We went in September. It is closed November through mid May. It opens May 13th according to their website.
So can I get some clarification: Can one actually HIKE to the crater from the Observatory? I know there are many hikes around the area and we'll surely want to do one (and considering we'll be driving straight from PDX airport upon arrival at 10:15 am on a Friday, I realize we won't have a lot of time - which is why I picked the Johnston Ridge Observatory as our anchor destination (so to speak), from which to see Mt. St. Helens and hopefully get in a hike. But I got confused reading some of the posts...didn't realize one can hike to the crater from the Observatory so wanted confirmation on that (and would that require a permit? From everything I've read, one must get a permit to hike up the crater and only 100 are given out and they must be purchased online - but is this applicable from Johnston Observatory?) Also, wondering if anyone has been to the Mt. St. Helens Visitor Center (further west) and whether I should give that a complete pass, in favor of driving directly to Johnston Ridge Observatory. Thanks for feedback.
September 9, 2016|
Answer Show all 2 answers
Response from TerryCMT | Reviewed this property |
Hi. The only hiking route to the crater rim is from the south off Hwy 503, past Cougar and Ape Caves to Climber's Bivouac. And yes, you must have a permit, which is limited to 100 a day. There are three visitor centers on... More
Izzy S
Hello, I am renting a car for my trip in Washington and this appears to be the most intense drive of the trip. If I get a compact or economy car (think something like a Ford Focus), will that make the trip? The drive up looks steep. Thank you!
September 5, 2016|
Answer Show all 16 answers
Response from Dan D | Reviewed this property |
There are actually two drives up. The southern drive did not seem that steep. However I can't think of any car not being able to make it up. Neither would be to steep.