Welcome to a Washington State Adventure: Mount St. Helens

On May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens erupted after an earthquake hit the area. Washington has never been the same since.

Yet, in the aftermath of the eruption, a whole new industry of adventure emerged. As the area continues to evolve, more and more visitors flock to the area for its awe-inspiring views, incredible hiking trails, epic photo opportunities and more.

Take in the Views

Take in sweeping views of the crater, lava dome and blast center from the nearby Coldwater Ridge Visitor Center and Johnston Ridge Observatory when you stay at Red Lion Hotel Kelso Longview. Remember to bring your camera because volcano-watching and photographing this notorious American volcano is a top pastime around here. You may have even see some of the area’s most prominent wildlife, including elk, the Pacific tree frog, northwestern garter snakes, northern alligator lizards, western meadowlarks, wood ducks, bald eagles, coyotes and cougars.

Plan Your Outdoor Adventure

A sought-after go to spot for families and solo adventurers alike, Mount St. Helens offers jaw-dropping views and endless opportunities for swimming, boating, picnicking and more. Fishing, hunting, cross-country skiing and biking are all available in the area. And the region’s mountain biking trails are considered by some to be the best in the country.

Go Horseback Riding

Horseback riding is available in Packwood at the Little Cayuse Ranch where professional tour guides can lead you on a trail ride along the Cowlitz River near the foot of Mount Rainier to take in the scenery. Riding here is smooth. You can also opt for The Kalama Horse Camp on the southwest side of Mount St. Helens featuring an extensive trail network or Eco Park Resort, just 24 miles up State Route 504 on the northwest side of Mount St. Helens, offering guided horseback tours and the use of their trails if you have your own horse.

Take a Hike

Hiking is available throughout the Mount St. Helens area, which boasts more than 200 miles of trails, with access to a remarkable landscape marked by bright summer wildflowers, young forests, new lakes, mounds of ash and rock and a growing volcanic crater rimmed by the state’s newest glacier. Monument passes are required and a special hiking permit to reach the top is available on a limited basis. There are hikes that take less than an hour, while others are multi-day hikes. Learn more about hiking near Mount St. Helens here.

Fly through the Air

Take a zip line ride for the thrill of your life or go even higher on a helicopter tour of Mount St. Helens. These are views you won’t forget anytime soon. Helicopter tour options include a Crater Tour over Elk Rock, Castle Lake and Coldwater Lake, a Devastated Area Tour covering 150 feet of debris, a Summit Tour where you can look down at the lava dome from the crater’s rim and a Valley & Sediment Dam Tour when Mount St. Helens is obscured with clouds.

Uncover Hidden Treasures

Geocaching is a fun-filled activity in the Mount St. Helens area for visitors who enjoy using their GPS for searching, hiding and finding micro-treasures. Another exciting spot to explore are the ape caves, home to the longest lava tube in the continental United States at over two miles in length. The Ape Caves are located on the south side of Mount St. Helens and accessed through Woodland. They are open year-round, though the parking lot be inaccessible due to snow in during the winter.