Things to do in Cowlitz County

Visitor Centers

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Johnston Ridge Observatory
24000 Spirit lake Hwy
Toutle, WA 98649

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. Visitors to Johnston Ridge Observatory can enjoy multiple award-winning films, listen to ranger talks, observe the landscape, purchase souvenirs, set off on a hike, or get a light lunch from the food cart.

Check out the annual summer Music on the Mountain series held throughout summer at the Johnston Ridge Observatory outdoor amphitheater (in partnership Mount St. Helens Institute).

Hours Open: Open 7 days a week, 10 am to 6 pm

360.274.2140
Forest Learning Center
17000 Spirit Lake Hwy
Toutle, WA 98649

Directly following the Mount St. Helens eruption, workers from the Weyerhaeuser timber company swarmed across the devastated land, hauling out enough salvaged logs to build 85,000 three-bedroom homes. The company did its part to rebuild the forest by hand-planting 18 million seedlings. Today, you can almost see a line between the trees that were farmed and the natural regeneration of plant-life at the mountain.

Built by Weyerhaeuser Company, the Forest Learning Center tells the story of the rebirth of the forest. Walk through the forest, hearing the sounds of the birds and animals on the mountain prior to May 18, 1980. Enter the “eruption chamber” to view a video of what the forest looked like immediately after the eruption. Hear a first-hand report from a local newscaster who barely escaped.

The second half of the center depicts the regeneration of the forests surrounding Mount St. Helens. Breathtaking photographs and life-size models of loggers working in the blast zone bring the experience to life. The Forest Learning Center tells the story from nature’s perspective and gives a hands-on approach to learning in the Kids Room where families can touch lava rocks, learn about the animals of the Pacific Northwest, and discover how trees grow.

Location: 33.5 miles from I-5

Exhibits: Open 5 days a week: Friday through Tuesday 10 am to 4 pm – Until September 10th
Gift Shop: Open 7 days a week 10 am to 5 pm – Until October 31

360.414.3439 – Exhibits
360.274.7750 – Gift Shop/Restrooms/Outdoor Facilities
Mt St Helens Visitor Center
3029 Spirit Lake Hwy, Castle Rock, WA 98611

The Silver Lake Visitor Center is a world-class facility located on the western shore of Silver Lake. With its high ceilings and massive windows, the outdoors becomes a part of the architecture. Your senses will come alive as you enjoy the interactive exhibits, a step-in model of the volcano and theater programs that are offered twice an hour. Outside, a mile-long trail takes you into marshy plains surrounding Silver Lake where you can see waterfowl and a picture-perfect view of the mountain.

Make sure to take in one of the comprehensive presentations on the historical and cultural significance of the area. View exhibits showing the chronology of events leading up to the eruption and see the working seismograph. On your trip to Mount St. Helens, Silver Lake Visitor Center is the closest to I-5.

Visitor Center Hours:
March 1 – May 15, open daily 9:00 – 4:00
May 16 – September 15, open daily 9:00 – 5:00
September 16 – October 31, open daily 9:00 – 4:00
November 1 – February 28, open Thursday through Monday 9:00 – 4:00

360.274.0962
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