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Johnston Ridge Observatory

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21500 Spirit Lake Highway, Toutle, WA 98649
+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 talks” (35 reviews)
“mt st” (37 reviews)
“visitor center” (48 reviews)
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Hours Today: 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
21500 Spirit Lake Highway, Toutle, WA 98649
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1 - 10 of 393 reviews

Reviewed November 6, 2017 via mobile

this was the top spot on our trip. seeing Mount Saint Helen's and the aftermath of what happened. looking down on the valley you can see where the landslide ran like a river. they had a couple overlooks talking up the elk but we didn't...More

Thank karlee_sos
Reviewed November 5, 2017

The view of Mt St Helens from the observatory is incredible. I was even more impressed by the drive up. The views of both the trees and the frequent viewing areas were amazing. I was fortunate that the day I went, the leaves had just...More

Thank Eric T
Reviewed October 26, 2017

On a whim, took a trip up to Mt. Saint Helens the second weekend of October, 2017. Even though it had snowed up there on Friday and there was still ice on the road and sidewalk in shady areas, mid-day promised to be spectacular! Sixty...More

Thank kumtux
Reviewed October 26, 2017

This is simply the best place to visit and understand the awesome power of Mt. St. Helens and to understand the reality of what happened, to see the way that nature is regenerating the landscape and to see the way the mountain itself is reforming...More

Thank R0bAlex
Reviewed October 20, 2017

Always wanted to visit this site after grading countless case studies as a geography teacher (now retired) in the UK. Great view of the mountain itself and an understanding of the observatory and the role of David Johnston.

Thank YorksRick
Reviewed October 16, 2017

We have enjoyed both our visits to this location. If there is a ranger program be sure to attend. You get a lot of facts on Mt. St. Helen's. There are plenty of trails to walk on around the observatory. If you have a National...More

Thank Wanda R
Reviewed October 5, 2017

We had planned our trip to the Pacific northwest for months and knew there had been smoke and haze in the area. So, I found out online that you can check the webcam from the visitor's center and check the view. We changed our visit...More

Thank Zamigaos
Reviewed October 2, 2017 via mobile

Fantastic views of the 1980 collapse/eruption of the north side along with the regeneration and new lakes formed as a result of the eruption. The rangers do an excellent live program and have films of the event. A must see if you are in the...More

Thank Denise B
Reviewed October 1, 2017

We have all seen the destruction caused by the eruption of Mt St Helens on TV an film. But to make the drive to the Johnston Ridge Observatory from the lush forested slopes of Mt Rainier you get a sense of the enormity of what...More

Thank 1Feathers
Reviewed September 26, 2017

The drive up to Johnston Ridge Observatory is stunning and mind-boggling to get a sense of what happened here in May 1980. The interpretive programs, films and exhibits at the observatory bring it all into sharp relief. What a fascinating piece of geologic history. This...More

Thank DStin0731
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Questions & Answers
Amber M
August 23, 2017|
AnswerShow all 6 answers
Response from Ganesh K | Reviewed this property |
The movie is every hour and not more than 15 minutes. You don't have to buy online and it is included in admission ticket of $8. The movie is ok, but good if you are interested in history with pictures and videos. When the... More
Morgan B
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|
AnswerShow 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