Windy Ridge Observatory

Mt St Helens National Volcanic Monument

Cougar, Washington

End of Forest Service Rd 99

Most visitors to Mt. St. Helens head for Johnston Ridge Observatory off of I-5. However, the closest that most visitors can get to the crater from the 1980 eruption is Windy Ridge, accessed via the Forest Service roads between Cougar and Randle.

There are a number of related destinations along these roads that reveal more about the moutain's volcanic landscape before the 1980 eruption.


mt st helens

Mt. St. Helens and Spirit Lake near Windy Ridge (P05A0158)


mt st helens steam eruption

Lava Dome and Steam Eruption (P05A0155)
During the 2005-2006 period, Mt. St. Helens went through a number of small dome-building eruptions. It's hard to see the steam eruption in this photo at this resolution. Not every eruption produces spectacular images.


mt st helens lava dome

Mt. St. Helens Lava Dome (O04A0322)
I took this photo a year earlier. It shows the dome before the round of dome-building that I captured above in the 2005 photo.


spirit lake

Spirit Lake and Downed Trees (O04A0323)
Decades after the 1980 eruption, downed trees still float on the surface of Spirit Lake.

More About Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument

There are a number of great destinations related to Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, with Johnston Ridge Observatory and Windy Ridge Observatory being the best ones for the most direct views of Mt. St. Helens, its lava dome and the blast zone.

Although Johnston Ridge and Windy Ridge are just a few miles from one another, there is no direct road connection. By road it's in the range of about 150 miles to get from one to the other. Johnston Ridge is accessed from I-5 between Seattle and Portland. Windy Ridge and the sites along the south and east of Mt. St. Helens are most easily accessed when driving out of Mt. Rainier National Park and from the Portland/Vancouver area.

Related Sights

You may also like these Mt. St. Helens destinations:

Nearby Sights

While you're in the area, check out these sights:


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