Knowledge, Entertainment and Excitement!
The eruption of Mount St. Helens caused the largest
landslide in recorded history, sweeping through the
Toutle River Valley and removing 1,306 feet from the top
of the volcano. The powerful lava flow, savage winds and
deadly heat destroyed much of the previous landscape.
What the mountain left behind is the history of a
violent eruption that shook the surrounding region and
left many with stories of that tumultuous day on May 18,
1980. Four world-class visitor centers tell the story of
the mountain and the people living in the region
surrounding it. Located along Spirit Lake Highway, the
centers are nothing short of unforgettable and
extraordinary. The awesome views from each of the
centers speak for themselves, bringing you face to face
with a monumental natural event.
Each visitor center tells a part of the tale, like a
captivating book with four chapters: the mountain as it
was before the blast at Hoffstadt Bluffs Visitor Center;
first-hand accounts from survivors who experienced the
explosion at Johnston Ridge Observatory; the recovery of
the mountain and the region at the Forest Learning
Center; and its present state at the Silver Lake Visitor
Center. Each center offers an unparalleled experience
that brings visitors face-to-face with one of the most
memorable natural phenomena of our era.
Download PDF Map All Visitor Centers
Mount St. Helens Visitor
5 miles from I-5
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
Thursday to Sunday from 9 am to 4 pm
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Forest Learning Center
33.5 miles from I-5
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
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.
Exhibits will Re-Open May 2017
Gift Shop will Re-Open March 2017
Tel: 360.274.7750 - Gift Shop/Restrooms/Outdoor
Tel: 360.414.3439 - Exhibits
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52 miles from I-5
Tucked into the side of Johnston’s Ridge and only 5
miles from the north side of the mountain, the Johnston
Ridge Observatory transcends the meaning of world-class.
Providing visitors the opportunity to come within a
stone’s throw of the crater, the observatory is
unparalleled. Walk out on the viewing deck or take a
stroll along one of the trails and feel the energy of
the mountain as it continues to puff steam into the sky.
Inside the 16,000-square-foot structure, it can be
difficult for visitors to decide what to do first. One
favorite is the fully-equipped theater, where visitors
can watch a video about the eruption. Just as the
mountain surprised the world with its blast, the movie
does likewise as the show concludes and the screen rises
to deliver a picture-perfect view of the mountain. For
more detailed information, be sure to catch a formal
talk or go on a guided walk led by one of the
observatory’s volunteers. Take time to view the many
exhibits and read through personal survival stories from
that fateful day in 1980.
Will Re-Open May 2017
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The Mount St. Helens
Science and Learning Center
43.3 miles from I-5
The Mount St. Helens Science and Learning Center is a
collaborative effort of the Mount St. Helens Institute
and the U.S. Forest Service, Mount St. Helens National
Our mission is to connect people with nature through
science, art and adventure recreation. Our facilities
and programs are designed to extend the quality and
duration of educational experiences both onsite at the
volcano and through engaging online experiences.
Call or email for rental information or education
Saturdays & Sundays - November to April - 10:00 am to
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