Johnston Ridge Observatory


Area Status: Open
Exterior with St. Helens in background

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. Enjoy a breathtaking view of the volcano and crater or set out on a hike in the blast zone. View a vicinity map.

In the summer, join a ranger talk or guided hike and learn about the events that occurred during the 1980 eruption and the changes that continue to transform the landscape.  Ranger and Junior Ranger programs are offered daily, inquire about the schedule at our information desk. Services include a wide-screen theater presentation, interpretive exhibits, a staffed information desk and a Discover Your Northwest books sales area. There is a food cart in the parking lot at Johnston Ridge during the summer season.

Take a 0.5 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.

To protect plant and animal life, and provide for visitor safety, pets are prohibited at the Johnston Ridge Visitor Center plaza and interpretive area. In all other areas pets 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 when planning on spending time at the Visitor Center.

Volcano Camera at Johnston Ridge Observatory (This static image is from a USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory research camera located at the Johnston Ridge Observatory, north of Mount St. Helens.  The view is to the south.  This camera is intended to assist the USGS with situational awareness. At times, clouds, rain, and snow obscure visibility.  Because this camera is located in a harsh environment, it may sporadically breakdown and go off-line for extended periods of time before repairs can be made. The image refreshes every 5 minutes.)

Learn more about the area in this Accessible Adventures Video:

At a Glance

Current Conditions: 06/06/2022: Johnston Ridge Observatory (4,000 foot elevation) is now open to the public 10am-6pm 7 days a week. Check weather forecast for the area.
Operational Hours: 10am-6pm, 7 days a week - during the open season.
Fees: Admission to Johnston Ridge Observatory is $8 per adult, 16 and older. America the Beautiful Passes are accepted.
Permit Info: America the Beautiful Interagency Passes are accepted (Senior, Senior Annual, Annual, Military, Access, and Fourth Grade Pass Interagency Passes). Cardholder with a valid pass and identification plus 3. 
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
Operated By: Forest Service
Information Center:
  • Johnston Ridge Observatory  (360) 274-2140
  • Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument Administrative Headquarters  (360) 449-7800

 

General Information

Directions:

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


Accessibility:

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

Activities

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.

Viewing Scenery

Visitors can expect to see views of the lava dome, crater, pumice plain, and the landslide deposit.

Visitor Programs

Volunteer at Johnston Ridge Observatory!

Our Volcano Ambassadors are one of Mount St. Helens best resources. We’re proud of and grateful for our volunteers who since 2006 have logged thousands of hours helping out at Mount St. Helens. Our Volcano volunteers lead hikes, guide school groups, and share information with the public at the Monument’s visitor centers and other tourist sites. They greatly enhance visitors’ experiences at the volcano by explaining scientific information, monument rules, and travel and safety tips.

If you’d like to join this wonderful group of outdoors-oriented folks, consider becoming a Volcano Ambassador. You’ll be rewarded with new knowledge, stronger communication skills, and a chance to spend time in the blast zone. We’re looking for individuals with good speaking skills and an ability to lead groups. A science background is helpful but not required. We request a commitment of at least 4 days per month for a minimum of two months. If you’d like to volunteer for a longer amount, that’s great! We need volunteers for up to six months at the Monument.

For more information visit: https://www.mshinstitute.org/volunteer/volcano-ambassadors.html

Interpretive Areas

In the summer, join a ranger talk or guided hike and learn about the events that occurred during the 1980 eruption and the changes that continue to transform the landscape.  Ranger and Junior Ranger programs are offered each hour, inquire about the schedule at our information desk.

Visitor Centers

Services include a wide-screen theater presentation, interpretive exhibits, a staffed information desk and a Discover Your Northwest books sales area. There is a food cart in the parking lot at Johnston Ridge during the summer season.

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities

Location

 
  Latitude : 
46.275554

  Longitude : 
-122.21606

  Elevation : 
4255' - 4214'