Washington State/Mt St Helens


I'm planning a trip to MSH with my 13 yr old daughter in late June. We are travelling via Portland.The trip is primarily consisting of MSH and Cannon Beach in Oregon. I'm not sure which side of MSH we should visit.Is there enough to see of the blast zone from the west side of the mountain or should we go the east side as well? We are also trying not to spend too much time in the car. Are there any Must see areas on either side of the mountain? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks


Thank you for your question. MSH has different things to experience on different sides. If you are coming from Portland, the south side of MSH has what it known as the Ape Caves. The Ape Caves are old lava tubes from over 2,000 years ago. Depending on your level of hiking abilities, the walk offers easy to difficult trails. You can see MSH from here, but it's what is refer to as the backside of the mountain. Here is a link for more information: http://vulcan.wr.usgs.gov/Volcanoes/MSH/NatMonument/PointsInterest/ape_cave.html

For the best view of the blast zone the north side of MSH would serve you best; which can be accessed from the west. It's a longer drive from Portland, but totally worth it on a clear day. The Johnson Ridge Observatory is the closest you can get to the blast zone via your car. Here is a link for more information: http://vulcan.wr.usgs.gov/Volcanoes/MSH/NatMonument/PointsInterest/johnston_ridg

For the most part, these are your two best options for experiencing MSH. There are roads on the east side of MSH, which would allow you to see multiple angles of the mountain, but these roads are prone to heavy snow during the winter and are usually only open during July, August, & September. In June, there will probably still be snow on the roads and therefore the Park Service keeps them closed.

I hope you find the information I provided useful. Please feel free to ask further questions if you wish. I'm happy to help out. Enjoy your visit to Washington State.


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David Williams


I have traveled Washington State extensively to the point where I have visited all four corners of the state and everything in between. This includes 493 cities, every lighthouse, ferry boat, mountain pass, hydroelectric dam, and even the tribal casinos. I can answer questions regarding day trips, weekend trips, scenic trips, the best towns to visit, the best roadside attractions, and anything in between.


Since January 2001, I have been on a personal project to visit all of Washington State. My travels across Washington State can be viewed on my web site: www.visiteverycityinwashingtonstate.com

Washington State Historical Society (Member) - HistoryLink.org (Member)

I have an AA in History, majoring in Pacific NW History.

Awards and Honors
During the course of my project, I have been interviewed by several newspapers, NPR, AAA Magazine, and KING TV's Evening Magazine in Seattle.

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