Science and Learning Center at Coldwater

Area Status: Open
This is the view of Mount St. Helens from the Science and Learning Center at Coldwater

This facility is located at milepost 43 on State Highway 504, approximately 10 miles west of Johnston Ridge Observatory. Begining Oct. 30, 2023 the Coldwater Science and Learning Center is open as a vistor center on Saturdays and Sundays for the 2023/24 winter season. During winter, it is the closest access to Mount St. Helens from the west. Stop in to get information about exploring the monument, learn about education programs offered, or shop at the bookstore.  A pet rest area is located a mile down the road at Coldwater Lake near the Lakes Trail.

There are two trails near the building perfect for exploration. The accessible Winds of Change Trail is a 1/4 mile paved path leading through a part of the Blast Zone.  The Elk Bench Trail starts near the building and connects with the Lakes Trail #211, providing stunning views of Coldwater Lake and frequent elk sightings along the way.  Once connected with the Lakes Trail, head north along the shore of Coldwater Lake and begin your exploration into Mount Margaret Backcountry.

Rentals:  The Science and Learning Center has conference rooms, simple overnight group accomodations, and a kitchen available for day or overnight rentals for small conferences, classes and events. Find information about renting the Science and Learning Center

Educational Programs: The Science and Learning Center hosts schools and provides in-depth and extended education programs to groups visiting the volcano. Our partner Mount St. Helens Institute offers overnight stays in the Science and Learning Center for education programs as well as hands-on education in the Volcanic Monument. Programs vary from 2 hours to multiple days.

For more information on programs or volunteering, visit the Mount St. Helens Institute's website or contact (360) 449-7883.

At a Glance

Current Conditions: 04/02/2024: The Coldwater Science and Learning Center will be open on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am - 4pm. Some time in May, their hours will be changing to being open 7 days a week. It is good to call ahead during inclement weather to find out if the road is clear of snow (360) 274-2131.
Operational Hours: 2023 Summer Hours (Generally Mid May through October): 7 days a week 10 am to 4 pm. ** The gate to the parking lot will be locked daily at 4pm to accommodate overnight fieldtrips that were previously scheduled for the 2023 season. Winter Hours (Generally November through April): The center is open to the public Saturdays and Sundays throughout the winter, 10 am to 4 pm. 
  • Winter: $5/vehicle/day
  • Spring/Summer/Fall: No fee
Usage: Light-Medium
Closest Towns: Castle Rock, WA, Toutle , WA    Be aware the last gas stations on Highway 504 are in Toutle, WA, and on Highway 505, are in Toledo, WA. No gas available at Johnston Ridge Observatory or Coldwater Science and Learning Center.
Water: Yes
Restroom: Yes
Operated By: Forest Service
Information Center:
  • For information about the educational programs and rentals provided by the Mount St. Helens Institute please call (360) 449-7883 or visit their website
  • For Forest Service recreation information please call (360) 274-2131
  • And for additional information about the National Monument call Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument Administrative Headquarters at (360) 449-7800

General Information


From Castle Rock, WA take State Route 504 east for 42 miles to the Science and Learning Center, just 10 miles west of Johnston Ridge Observatory.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Visitor Programs

Interpretive Areas

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


  Latitude : 

  Longitude : 

  Elevation : 
3080' - 3100'