Monday, September 3, 2012

Mount St. Helens

On Sunday of Labor Day Weekend we drove to Mount St. Helens, the site of the horrendous 1980 eruption. We took I-5 to Castle Rock and The Spirit Lake Memorial Highway (WA 504). This drive rises from about 500 ft to 4000 ft above sea level. It is about 48 miles from Castle Rock to the Johnson Ridge Observatory, the closest one can get to the mountain without special permits. This beautiful road has dozens of pullouts with fabulous views. There are four visitor centers along the way.

The first visitor center is about 5 miles from Castle Rock.

The ranger was giving a talk as we arrived. Unfortunately the foreground was in deep shadow and the mountain in bright sunlight.  Without HDR I could not get the whole scene in the photo.

Here is the view behind the ranger in the above photo.

The first of dozens of pullouts with great views. After stopping a 4 or 5 of these we
became jaded and were more selective

There is a small stream running through the valley but most of what looks
like river is actually the remains of the lave flow

Both Mt St Helens and Frank are missing something at the top.

Up at the Johnson Ridge Observatory

Dogs were only permitted on a 3-4 foot strip about 100 yards long.
It seems that federal facilities like national parks are very dog unfriendly.

Rosie and the Golden puppy became quick friends.

The view from the Observatory. There is a 20 minute film that explains the nature of the eruption and the aftermath. Luckily the US Geological Survey had anticipated this eruption several weeks in advance and convinced the Forest Service to limit access to the mountain. Still 57 lives were lost.

This angst-producing bridge is about 400 ft above the valley floor.
I felt the the side walls could have been 2 feet higher.

When we came back to our campground we took a walk on the beach. It has a grand view onto the Columbia River. Lots of driftwood. Too bad so many people leave beer cans and other trash behind.

Sharky has a terrific view from his resting place.

The Columbia Riverview RV Park and Campground in Woodland Washington

Diva stands out even among giants.


  1. I've visited those same St. Helen's vistas. What a difference 20 years makes. In 1991 there wasn't a sign of a green anything. Just utter desolation that was haunting. It's reassuring to see life returning.

  2. Along the road there are dense evergreen forests with signs that they were planted in '1983", '1985' etc with a predicted harvesting time of about 35 years. There was plenty of green to be seen.

  3. Nice story of your travels! ( Found your blog after you found one of ours at ).

    We agree with you. Parks need to be more dog friendly! Please let us know when you find places to share our lives with our loved pups, and we will continue to do the same.