Johnston Ridge Observatory

Area Status: Closed
This area is Closed

Johnston Ridge Observatory with volcano in backround.

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.

Check out the annual summer Music on the Mountain series held throughout summer at the Johnston Ridge Observatory outdoor amphitheater (in partnership with the Cowlitz County Economic Development Council and the Mount St. Helens Institute).

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: Closed for the winter season. Will reopen on May 15, 2019. State Route 504 gated at milepost 45. Coldwater Science and Learning Center at milepost 43 open weekends only, 10 am to 4 pm. Last weekend open is April 14.
Operational Hours: Closed November through mid-May.
Fees $8/person/day
Usage: Medium-Heavy
Closest Towns: Castle Rock, WA or Toutle, WA
Water: Potable Water
Restroom: Yes during open hours
Passes: Per person site: Accepts annual/lifetime recreation passes or $8 day-use fee only. Children ages 15 and under have free admission.
Operated By: Forest Service
Information Center: Mount St Helens National Volcanic Monument Headquarters and Visitor Centers   See also:  West Side: State Highway 504

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



  Latitude : 

  Longitude : 

  Elevation : 
4255 - 4214


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