Mt. St. Helens West Side: State Highway 504

Area Status: Open
This area is Open

Johnston Ridge Observatory with volcano in backround.

One of the main roads into Mount St. Helens, 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 offering ranger talks, interactive exhibits, and award-winning films. 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.

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: State Highway 504 gated at milepost 45 for the winter season, just past the Hummocks Trail and Coldwater Lake. Possible ice and snow on the road at higher elevations. Check weather forecast or the live Mount St. Helens Volcanocam at to determine visiblility of the volcano. Johnston Ridge Observatory opens May 15, along with the last 7 miles of 504. Coldwater Science and Learning Center is open only to education groups and for special events until November, 2019.
Operational Hours: Johnston Ridge Observatory closed for the winter season. State Route 504 gated at milepost 45, just after the Hummocks Trail. Coldwater Science and Learning Center open weekends only, from 10 am to 4 pm.   
Restrictions: Please leave your pet at home if possible. Pets are allowed only in the parking lots and  pet relief areas at Johnston Ridge Observatory and Coldwater Science and Learning Center, not on trails or in the buildings. There is no shade to park in, so vehicles get incredibly hot.
Closest Towns: Toutle, WA - Castle Rock, WA
Restroom: Coldwater Lake Picnic Area, Johnston Ridge Observatory, Science and Learning Center at Coldwater
Passes: Coldwater Science and Learning Center and accessible recreation sites on Highway 504 are free.
Information Center: Mount St Helens National Volcanic Monument Headquarters and Visitor Centers

Recreation Map

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Mountain Biking

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