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Johnston Ridge Observatory

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%
Travellers talk about
“ranger talks” (35 reviews)
“mt st” (37 reviews)
“visitor center” (48 reviews)
Closed Now
All hours
Hours Today: 10:00 - 18:00
21500 Spirit Lake Highway, Toutle, WA 98649
+1 360-274-2140
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Reviews (405)
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21 - 30 of 393 reviews

Reviewed 2 September 2017

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
Reviewed 30 August 2017

Wish it hadn't been so smoky during our trip to Mount St. Helens. What a beautiful sight to behold. While I was only 10 when the mountain blew I remember it well having lived in Eastern Wa. You get an amazing view of the eruption...More

Thank Ron S
Reviewed 30 August 2017

Very interesting visitor centre, and of course the main reason to visit is the amazing view of the volcano crater.

Thank DeannaWN
Reviewed 28 August 2017

Finally on our third trip to the Portland/Vancouver area, my wife and I made the drive to Mt. St. Helen's. We decided to make the trip all the way to Johnston Ridge Observatory and were impressed with the view, informational pictures, models, posters, and video...More

Thank GEFisher
Reviewed 28 August 2017

If you only visit one site then this has to be the one .......you won't get a better view without a long walk. The centre is fine but with the main attraction right outside, it's hard to concentrate too hard on the exhibits. It's worth...More

Thank Hamish7Cam
Reviewed 26 August 2017 via mobile

Movie is a must see! Grand finale was very cool. The exhibits were very nice and kid friendly inside. We enjoyed a very informative ranger talk and the view was spectacular. Be sure to take the walk to the top of the hill - it...More

Thank jessjjmc
Reviewed 24 August 2017

The visitor's center is a must-see to really appreciate the enormity of the volcano and the effects of the eruption. Even 37 years later the scene of the devastation is jaw dropping. The visitor's center is beautifully done, with numerous displays documenting the eruption and...More

Thank PatB-Sonoma
Reviewed 23 August 2017

This is hands down the best view of Mount St. Helens! The view is awe inspiring. The visitor's center has a knowledgeable staff, a nice little gift shop, tons of information on the volcano and survivor accounts. The video is nice with a great view...More

Thank KandNBennett
Reviewed 21 August 2017 via mobile

It is a pretty long drive, but worth it When you get to the observatory parking, is just a short walk to the actual observatory and balcony overlooking the volcano The drive itself it is pretty impressive... closer you get to the volcano, more evident...More

Thank BlueBoyTX
Reviewed 9 August 2017

First of all - the movie was NOT our favorite part of this visitor center. The filming methods that they used did not enhance our viewing experience. The rest of the observatory was interesting and well done. Be aware though - they close RIGHT at...More

Thank Nathan B
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Nearby Attractions
Mountt St Helens National Volcanic Monument
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.01 miles away
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44 reviews
.01 miles away
Hummocks Trail
17 reviews
2.95 miles away
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Questions & Answers
Amber M
23 August 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
25 April 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.
10 September 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