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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 talk” (20 reviews)
“blast zone” (12 reviews)
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All hours
Hours Today: 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
21500 Spirit Lake Highway, Toutle, WA 98649
+1 360-274-2140
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Reviews (393)
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1 - 10 of 382 reviews

Reviewed 2 days ago

Wow. Reading or seeing pics of Mt. St. Helens doesn't even touch being up close at the observatory. The Johnston Ridge Observatory really puts this all in perspective and is an absolute must IMO. It's just hard to even comprehend the 1980 eruption. I would...More

Thank travel_wm
Reviewed 2 days ago via mobile

This place is amazing. Literally one of a kind. Absolute must see. A few years ago the family went to Kennedy Space Center (I'm going somewhere with this) and they've got a couple exhibits where they show you a short movie and then pull back...More

Thank Patrick C
Reviewed 5 days ago

Very insightful. All of the exhibits are worth taking the time to look at. Make sure you read the individual stories of the people caught in the eruption. Both videos are well done and do a good job of explaining why this wasn't just a...More

Thank mme8771
Reviewed 1 week ago via mobile

I really enjoyed my visit to the observatory. As other reviews have mentioned, take your own snacks, but let's be honest - you shouldn't have time to think about food when you have such a spectacular volcano to look at and so much interesting information...More

Thank ssum
Reviewed 1 week ago

The visitor centre is good, with lots of information about the Mt St Helens eruption in 1980 and the subsequent eruptions and changes to the landscape. The film shows are ok, but the ranger talks are better, so try to take those in if you...More

Thank Ian M
Reviewed 2 weeks ago

Your Nation parks pass gets you and your car pool pals in for free! You have to watch the two short (15/17 min) movies, then check out the inside educational displays and the gift shop! There is nice viewing from outside and clean restrooms. The...More

Thank LHB59
Reviewed 2 weeks ago via mobile

Place is very clean, enough parking space, there is a theater inside, there is a movie about the volcanic activity every hour. Small food truck outside, not much options, no place to eat for about 25-30 miles. Johnston Ridge Observatory charge $8 per person, no...More

Thank Sankar S
Reviewed 2 weeks ago

For clarity, the bits of the attraction provided by nature are, without question, awe inspiring, unambiguously six out of five. However, I'm not reviewing that, I'm reviewing Man's addition to the landscape. The location is brilliantly chosen to gaze at the missing bit of the...More

Thank robertbagnall
Reviewed 2 weeks ago

Drove up from Portland for the day to visit Mount St Helens and this area did not disappoint. There are several different roads with access to the park, however they are not connected so you would need to plan more than a day to see...More

Thank tine1281
Reviewed 2 weeks ago

This was one of the highlights of our trip. This is the visitor center you should check out for Mt St. Helens as it is only about 5 miles from the base of the mountain. The other visitor center is more than an hour away....More

Thank Kyong L
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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