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Johnston Ridge Observatory St Helens

Johnston Ridge Observatory St Helens

The Johnston Ridge Observatory is located 52 miles (84 km) east of Castle Rock, Washington, at the end of Washington State Route 504, four miles from the mountain. Exhibits focus on the geologic history of the volcano, eyewitness accounts of the explosion, and the science of monitoring volcanic activity. Two movies and ranger-led programs are available every hour. A half-mile paved trail provides views of the lava dome, crater, pumice plain, and landslide deposit, with access to hiking trails in the restricted area. 
St. Helens National Volcanic Monument Johnston Ridge
Mount St. Helens terrestrial landslide
Mount St. Helens eruption Zone 1980

The observatory is located in the heart of the blast zone, near the site of volcanologist David A. Johnston's camp on the morning of May 18, 1980, and opened in 1993. It offers grand views of Mount St. Helens and much of the 1980 blast zone.

The observatory hosts interpretive displays that tell the biological, geological, and human story of Mount St. Helens. Visitors to Johnston Ridge Observatory can enjoy multiple award-winning films, listen to ranger talks, observe the landscape, purchase souvenirs, set off on a hike, or get a light lunch from the food cart.

The 110,000-acre Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument was established following the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1982. The Monument was set aside for research, recreation, and education. Inside the Monument, the environment is being left to respond naturally to the disturbance. It is the first such monument managed by the U.S. Forest Service and Fees is $8/person/day.

Johnston Ridge St Helens Blast Zone
Johnston Ridge Observatory Blast Zone
Hiking to Mount St. Helens

Mount St. Helens Facts to Know :
·         During the past 4,000 years, Mount St. Helens has erupted more frequently than any other volcano in the Cascade Range.
·         March 20, 1980—A magnitude 4.2 earthquake signaled the reawakening of the volcano after 123 years.
·         Spring 1980—Rising magma pushed the volcano’s north flank outward 5 feet per day.
·         Morning of May 18, 1980— The largest terrestrial landslide in recorded history reduced the summit by 1,300 feet and triggered a lateral blast.
·         Within 3 minutes, the lateral blast, traveling at more than 300 miles per hour, blew down and scorched 230 square miles of forest.
·         Within 15 minutes, a vertical plume of volcanic ash rose over 80,000 feet.
·         Afternoon of May 18, 1980—The dense ash cloud turned daylight into darkness in eastern Washington, causing streetlights to turn on in Yakima and Ritzville.

The Johnston observatory is open mid-May until early-November, and is the only source of water. The Johnston Ridge Observatory is open 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Daily from mid-May to the end of October. 
Johnston Ridge Observatory from the Eruption Trail
Johnston Ridge Observatory St Helens

Johnston Ridge Eruption Trail : Mount St. Helens’s most popular walk also contains some of its most mind-blowing views. This short, paved half mile hike is dotted with interpretive kiosks and stumps of blown-down tree as it skirts Johnston Ridge, which was shattered by a “stone wind” traveling 300 miles per hour in the 1980 eruption. Panoramic views across the pumice plain and into the volcano’s crater and lava dome reveal a lunar, contoured swath of burgeoning earth.

How To Reach: Located approximately 70 miles north of Portland, Oregon. Within the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. From Castle Rock, WA take State Route 504 east for 52 miles to Johnston Ridge Observatory at the end of State Route 504.

St Helens Johnston Ridge Observatory. 21500 Spirit Lake Highway, Toutle, WA 98649. 

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