Johnston Ridge Observatory

Area Status: Closed
This area is Closed

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.

US Geological Survey 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.

To protect plant and animal life and provide for visitor safety, pets are prohibited within the Monument’s restricted area. View a vicinity 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 Johnston Ridge Observatory (360) 274-2140 or Mount St. Helens Administrative Headquarters (360) 449-7800 for information on where it is safe and legal to bring your pets.

Learn more about the area in this Accessible Adventures Video:

At a Glance

Current Conditions: 06/14/2021: While the Observatory remains closed with no firm opening date, the plaza area behind the building with an incredible view of the crater and volcano, and blast zone, is open. Stroll around the building and read interpretive signs about the eruption. Sales items are available from 10-4 daily, with restrooms open during those hours. Porta potties available in the parking lot. Check weather forecast for the Johnston Ridge area (4,000 foot elevation).
Operational Hours: An opening date for Johnston Ridge Observatory is yet to be announced for the 2021 season. In preparation for your trip, view Mount St. Helens eruption videos!
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: No passes or fees currently required.
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


  Latitude : 

  Longitude : 

  Elevation : 
4255 - 4214


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