Johnston Ridge Observatory
(360) 274.2140 - Visit Web site - 90 minutes from Interstate 5
Ninety Minutes from Interstate 5 tucked into the side of Johnston’s Ridge and only five miles from the north side of the mountain, the Johnston Ridge Observatory transcends the meaning of world class. Providing visitors the opportunity to come within a stone’s throw of the crater and face-to-face with a mountain that blew with such magnitude and fury; the observatory is unparalleled to any other facility. Walk out on the viewing deck or take a stroll along one of the trails and feel the energy of the mountain as it continues to puff with steam.
Johnston Ridge Observatory is named for volcanologist David Johnston, who was camped at the site when Mount St. Helens erupted on May 18, 1980. His final words – called in via shortwave radio – were, “Vancouver, Vancouver, this is it!” Johnston’s body has never been found.
Inside the 16,000 square foot structure, it’s hard for visitors to decide what to do first. A favorite is the fully-equipped theater where visitors can watch a video about the eruption. Just as the mountain surprised the world with its blast, the end of the movie does as well when the screen rises and a picture-perfect view of the mountain appears from behind the screen. For the most information, be sure to catch a formal talk or go on a guided walk led by one of the observatory’s volunteers. Take time to go through the many exhibits and read through personal survival stories from that fateful day on May 18, 1980.
Johnston Ridge Observatory is located on State Route 504 (SR 504) at the 52-mile marker. It offers the movie Message from the Mountain, exhibits, interpretive talks, photographs and viewing areas to maximize the Mount St. Helens experience. Johnston Ridge Observatory is the crown jewel of southwest Washington and the closest viewpoint to the crater of Mount St. Helens. Spectacular views, awesome hiking trails and breathtaking photo opportunities await you.