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Johnston Ridge Observatory

Toutle, WA
+1 360-274-2140
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Small-Group Full-Day Tour of Mount St Helens Volcano from Seattle
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A small observatory poised dramatically on a cliff overlooking the debris left over from the famous 1980 volcano explosion.
  • Excellent79%
  • Very good17%
  • Average2%
  • Poor1%
  • Terrible1%
Travellers talk about
“ranger talk” (17 reviews)
“blast zone” (12 reviews)
Open Now
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Hours Today: 10:00 - 18:00
Toutle, WA
+1 360-274-2140
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Reviews (362)
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1 - 10 of 352 reviews

Reviewed 2 days ago via mobile

The Johnston Ridge Observatory is about 50 or so miles off of I-5 along WA-504. It is well worth the drive. Not very far down 504 you start to see the devastation left by the 1980 eruption. There are plenty of viewpoints to stop at...More

Thank JLD1368
Reviewed 2 days ago via mobile

Skip the Visitors Center and save you money to spend here. Lots of information and great ranger talks. Great trails to see the view of Mt St Helens. Only adults have to pay entrance.

Thank F00d13MN
Reviewed 4 days ago via mobile

Worth the long ride up the valley to the observatory named after the unfortunate USGS geologist who was perhaps closest location to the 1980 eruption! Stationed here to monitor the volcano he faced the full force of the blast and heat wall, along with vast...More

Thank northernneckinn
Reviewed 5 days ago

The Johnston Ridge Observatory is well worth the trip to Mt. St. Helens. To view the mountain from this close vantage point is wonderul and the film and information at the observatory gives one such a picture of what exactly happened on that May day...More

Thank JOregon_11
Reviewed 1 week ago

The drive up it self was beautiful. Drink lots though, because you are driving up about 4000 ft in an hour.The day we were there it was overcast so it wasn't as spectacular as it could be, but still impressive. At the top the visitor...More

Thank Jenswar
Reviewed 1 week ago

It is well worth driving up Spirit Lake Highway to the Johnson Ridge Observatory to see the St Helens mountain now 37 years after an absolutely incredibly powerful volcanic eruption in 1980. You also will see how nature has begun to re-establish flowers and vegation....More

Thank Carvercon
Reviewed 1 week ago

We had ended a trip to the PNW at the Observatory 16 years ago and were greeted with a solid wall of fog. We started our trip this summer at the same spot and enjoyed a gorgeous view of the mountain. Johnston Ridge in itself...More

Thank John C
Reviewed 1 week ago via mobile

View of Mt. St.Helen's was spectacular! Enjoyed an educational movie and lot's of hands on things for the kids. Price for admission into observatory was great. Kids were free and adults are $8. Pleasant walking paths close to observatory with opportunities to hike with a...More

Thank B1540VJdianar
Reviewed 2 weeks ago via mobile

Worth the drive! It is about 1hr 45min drive from Puyallup. Once you exit from I-5 it is about 50miles going up to the observatory. You will pass the visitor center first. Then Scenic lookout all the way up to the observatory. So amazing to...More

1  Thank hazel_travelss
Reviewed 3 weeks ago

Definitely worth the trip up, but unlike us (who were limited in time), I highly recommend paying the $8 fee to enter the gift shop and see the movie. I think it would have given us a better understanding of the devastation. Even w/o paying...More

Thank JenniferLynn
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Questions & Answers
Morgan B
26 April 2017|
Response from Rita J | Reviewed this property |
We went in September. It is closed November through mid May. It opens May 13th according to their website.
So can I get some clarification: Can one actually HIKE to the crater from the Observatory? I know there are many hikes around the area and we'll surely want to do one (and considering we'll be driving straight from PDX airport upon arrival at 10:15 am on a Friday, I realize we won't have a lot of time - which is why I picked the Johnston Ridge Observatory as our anchor destination (so to speak), from which to see Mt. St. Helens and hopefully get in a hike. But I got confused reading some of the posts...didn't realize one can hike to the crater from the Observatory so wanted confirmation on that (and would that require a permit? From everything I've read, one must get a permit to hike up the crater and only 100 are given out and they must be purchased online - but is this applicable from Johnston Observatory?) Also, wondering if anyone has been to the Mt. St. Helens Visitor Center (further west) and whether I should give that a complete pass, in favor of driving directly to Johnston Ridge Observatory. Thanks for feedback.
10 September 2016|
Answer Show all 2 answers
Response from TerryCMT | Reviewed this property |
Hi. The only hiking route to the crater rim is from the south off Hwy 503, past Cougar and Ape Caves to Climber's Bivouac. And yes, you must have a permit, which is limited to 100 a day. There are three visitor centers on... More
Izzy S
6 September 2016|
Answer Show all 16 answers
Response from Dan D | Reviewed this property |
There are actually two drives up. The southern drive did not seem that steep. However I can't think of any car not being able to make it up. Neither would be to steep.