Johnston Ridge Observatory

Area Status: Closed
This area is Closed

Located at the end of State Highway 504 (52 miles east of Castle Rock), in the heart of the blast zone, the observatory hosts interpretive displays that tell the biological, geological, and human story of Mount St. Helens. Visitors to Johnston Ridge Observatory can enjoy multiple award-winning films, listen to ranger talks, observe the landscape, purchase souvenirs, set off on a hike, or get a light lunch from the food cart.

Take Care of Your Pet and Help Protect the Monument!

A Big Brown Dog on the MonumentTo protect plant and animal life and provide for visitor safety, pets are prohibited at all recreation sites and trails within the Monument’s restricted area. View a general map. Pets are permitted only in designated pet areas and must be on a leash. Lack of shade and summer heat can endanger pets left in cars. For the safety and comfort of your pet, please arrange to leave your pet at home.

Contact any Mount St Helens office for information on where it is safe and legal to bring your pets.

Accessible Adventures Video

At a Glance

Current Conditions: Johnston Ridge Observatory remains closed due to COVID 19 concerns. The plaza area is open. Please observe social distancing of 6 feet. Porta-potties are available, but due to infrequent servicing and high visitation, it is recommended to bring your own hand sanitizer and toilet paper. There is currently no projected opening date for the observatory.
Operational Hours: Johnston Ridge Observatory remains closed due to COVID 19 concerns. The plaza area and parking lot is open, daylight hours only.
Fees $8 day-use fee per adult, children 15 and younger are free, or America the Beautiful Pass accepted. See "Passes" section.
Open Season: undefined - undefined
Usage: Medium-Heavy
Closest Towns: Castle Rock, WA or 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: Potable Water
Restroom: Yes during open hours
Passes: America the Beautiful Pass accepted. ANNUAL Northwest Forest Pass covers one admission.
Operated By: Forest Service
Information Center:


General Information


From Castle Rock, WA take State Route 504 east for 52 miles to Johnston Ridge Observatory at the end of State Route 504.


The center has accessible parking, facilities, and trails. This is a great place for all visitors to enjoy what the monument has to offer.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information



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Day Hiking

Take a .5 mile walk on the Eruption Trail and learn how the eruption shaped the surrounding landscape. Visitors can expect to see views of the lava dome, crater, pumice plain, and the landslide deposit.

Explore other westside hikes and activities including Coldwater Lake.

Nature Viewing

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Outdoor Learning

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Areas & Activities



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  Elevation : 
4255 - 4214