Mount St. Helens South: Forest Roads 83 & 81

Area Status: Open
This area is Open

Volcano view from Lahar Viewpoint

Forest Road 83: This nine-mile, paved road passes through forests, over 2,000 year-old lava flows and across a mudflow created during the 1980 eruption.

From Forest Road 8303, a spur road, visit Trail of Two Forests Interpretive Site or Ape Cave. Continuing driving on 83 to access June Lake Trail, Lahar Viewpoint (the only clear view of the mountain’s south side from the road), Ape Canyon Trail and Lava Canyon Interpretive Site. See Mount St. Helens Map.

Forest Road 81: This mostly paved but several miles of gravel, rough road transports you through less traveled parts of the Monument. Spur Road 830 ends at Climber’s Bivouac Trailhead, the start of the summer climbing route. The road winds west to Red Rock Pass, Blue Lake Trailhead, and Kalama Horse Camp Campground, eventually connecting back with Highway 503.

Accessible Adventures Video:

At a Glance

Current Conditions: 11/11/2021:
  • Forest Roads 81 and 83 are snow covered. Visitors should anticipate snow and winter conditions and drive with caution.
  • Forest Road 83 open. No parking allowed on the road.
  • Forest Road 81 open, but very rough. Drive with caution.
  • Forest Road 830 to Climber's Bivouac is gated normally until mid-June to the beginning of July, depending on when the road melts out.
  • Forest Road 8303 to Ape Cave and beyond is open. Ape Cave is closed for the season and will open spring of 2022.
Permit Info:
Usage: Medium-Heavy
Best Season: Summer - Fall
Busiest Season: Summer
  • Climbing Permits are by advance reservation only from April 1st thru October 31st. A climbing quota is in effect of 110 climbers per day May 15th thru October 31st.
  • No parking allowed on Forest Road 83.
Closest Towns: Cougar, WA
Water: No
Restroom: Ape Cave,Lava Canyon and Climbers Bivouac
Information Center:

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information



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Horse Riding & Camping

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Nature Viewing

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Outdoor Learning

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Winter Sports

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XC Skiing/Snowshoeing

Recreation areas with activity XC Skiing/Snowshoeing:


Recreation areas with activity Snowmobiling:

Go to our Winter Sports page to find Sno-Park information.

NOTE: The area north of Mount St. Helens (within the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument) is a Restricted Area. It includes the crater, pumice plain to the north and the Spirit Lake basin. The area is closed to the public in order to provide for the recovery of the land and to avoid disturbance of scientific studies. For more information contact the Monument headquarters.

Violations of 36 CFR 261 may result in confiscation of equipment, fines up to $5,000.00, and/or six months in jail.

Areas & Activities


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