The north side of Mt St Helens was devastated during the 1980 eruption
Mt St Helens makes for a fantastic weekend getaway full of outdoor adventure and education! A great and affordable basecamp for a weekend is Seaquest State Park, just a few miles from I5 on State Route 504, the road to the Johnston Ridge Observatory as well as Coldwater Lake.
Seaquest state park has both camping and yurts, a fun alternative to camping with heat!
Yurt Village at Seaquest state park has five yurts, each of which sleep 5 people
The park itself has some great hiking, including a loop that goes around Silver lake (featuring lots of birds and amphibians) as well as through a misty, green forest
Lush green hiking in Seaquest State park
When you’re ready to explore the Blast Zone, it’s just an hour to get to Johnston Ridge Observatory, which has an excellent visitor center, a movie theater and lots of hiking trails.
Once you’ve learned all about the eruption and the return of life to Mt St Helens, it’s a great time for a hike. There is no shade here at all, so make sure to bring lots of extra water and sun protection, even if it doesn’t feel like a hot day (along with your 10 essentials of course). If you’re not up for a long hike, it’s still worth it to walk out on the Boundary trail to get away from crowds and get a feel for the devastation of the blast zone.
Flattened trees along the Boundary Trail
If you’re up for a longer excursion (and have enough water and sun protection), you can continue to a junction and go up to Harry’s Ridge or down into the Pumice Plain. In either direction you can see the devastation caused by the largest landslide in recorded history as well as the lateral explosion from the crater which is less than 5 miles away!
Along the pumice plain
The edge of Spirit Lake from the Pumice Plain. Before 1980, Spirit Lake was a popular recreation area, full of cabins and camps, which are now buried under 200 feet of debris and water and is closed to the public!
Another great stop is at Coldwater Lake, a large and beautiful lake created by the 1980 eruption damming a creek.
Bring your sense of adventure and imagination and experience a unique landscape at a moment in time and grow your awe for nature’s power and ability to renew itself!