Mount St. Helens West: State Highway 504

Area Status: Open
Johnston Ridge Observatory with volcano in backround.

One of the main roads into Mount St. Helens, State Route 504 provides spectacular views of the landscape, including the crater, blast zone, and Toutle River Valley. At the end of the road is Johnston Ridge Observatory, a popular visitor center that is open daily mid-May through October. Seven miles west of Johnston Ridge Observatory is the Science and Learning Center at Coldwater, where groups participate in educational programming and visitors may get information on winter weekends, 10 am to 4 pm, starting in December.

As you drive up 504, consider stopping at one of the highway viewpoints: Elk Rock Viewpoint, Castle Lake Viewpoint, and Loowit Viewpoint.  These pull-outs offer benches, trails, gorgeous views, and are open most of the year.

Route 504 also provides visitors with access to a number of trails, such as the Hummocks Trail where you walk alongside pieces of the mountain, or begin your backpacking trip to spot elk and mountain goats in the majestic Mount Margaret Backcountry. A pleasant summer stop is at Coldwater Lake, with its accessible boardwalk stroll, picnic area, and boat launch.  Route 504 to Coldwater Lake is open through the winter. In summer, food service is available at Johnston Ridge Observatory while many options for food, lodging, and gas can be found along 504 west of Mount St. Helens.

Accessible Adventures Video

At a Glance

Current Conditions: 11/28/2022: Highway 504 is closed at the Hummocks Trailhead for the season. The road will begin being plowed on December 1st and will be plowed Monday-Thursday each week. Check the forecast here. Plan ahead, there is no gas or food available beyond Castle Rock on 504 and Toledo on 505. *Note: There is a food cart in the parking lot at Johnston Ridge during the summer season.
Operational Hours: Access on Highway 504 inside the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument (east of Elk Rock Viewpoint) is limited to daylight hours. 
Fees: Admission to Johnston Ridge Observatory is $8 per adult, 16 and older. America the Beautiful Passes are accepted.
Restrictions: Pets are not allowed at Johnston Ridge Observatory and plaza. There is no shade to park in, so vehicles get incredibly hot! Please leave your pet at home if you plan to enter the Visitor Center. 
Closest Towns: Toutle, WA, Castle Rock, WA
Restroom: Coldwater Lake & Johnston Ridge
Information Center:

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Mountain Biking

Recreation areas with activity Mountain Biking:

Lake and Pond Fishing

Recreation areas with activity Lake and Pond Fishing:

Viewing Wildlife

Recreation areas with activity Viewing Wildlife:

Viewing Plants

Recreation areas with activity Viewing Plants:

Viewing Scenery

Recreation areas with activity Viewing Scenery:

Visitor Programs

Recreation areas with activity Visitor Programs:

Interpretive Areas

Recreation areas with activity Interpretive Areas:

Visitor Centers

Recreation areas with activity Visitor Centers:


Recreation areas with activity Picnicking:

Group Picnicking

Recreation areas with activity Group Picnicking:

Boating - Non-Motorized

Recreation areas with activity Boating - Non-Motorized:

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


  Latitude : 

  Longitude :