Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument
Prior to May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens had the most perfectly shaped cone in the Pacific Northwest volcanic chain. The momentous plume of pumice and smoke Mount St. Helens spewed that day transformed a quiet and beautiful landscape into a moonscape wasteland.
Today plants and animals are returning to the land as it recovers, but lingering fields of devastation continue to amaze and astound visitors. Mount St. Helens has become one of Washington’s must-see sights, and a fine set of visitor facilities, access roads, and trails now offer ample opportunities to learn about the power of this active volcano.
The Mount St. Helens Volcanic Headquarters (360/247-3900 www.fs.fed.us./gpnf/mshnvm or www.mountsthelens.com) is three miles north of Amboy on Highway 503. The office has brochures and the latest on conditions at Mount St. Helens, including the status of volcanic activity and trail closures.
Several aviation companies offer scenic flights over Mount St. Helens, affording passengers a view of the crater and lava dome that you can’t get otherwise. Helicopter flights over the volcano are provided by Hillsboro Helicopters (360/274-7750 or 800/752-8439, www.hillsboro-aviation.com, $165) from Hoffstadt Bluffs and Applebee Aviation (503/647-0404, 15 minutes for $396, up to three passengers) from Eco Park Resort.
© Ericka Chickowski from Moon Washington, 8th edition