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Places In Washington: Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument

Basic Information

Picture from Mt. St. Helens, Washington

Narrative

During my stay in Washington State one of the most spectacular places I visited was Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument:

Picture from Mt. St. Helens, Washington

Most Americans know Mt. St. Helens as being the volcano that exploded on May 18, 1980 killing 57 people and being the most catastrophic volcanic eruption in American history.  Today the volcano is still alive and can be seen pumping out smoke from time to time like it was during the day my wife and I visited:

Picture from Mt. St. Helens, Washington

The volcano is located in southern Washington and is accessed off of I-5 by Highway 504:

The drive up Highway 504 is scenic, but not in the traditional sense.  Even after all these decades it is amazing to see how devastated a huge amount of land still is around Mt. St. Helens:

Picture from Mt. St. Helens, Washington

The amount of trees killed during the eruption is just staggering with many of them still visible on the valley floor.  However, the trees are slowly making a comeback on the nearby hills around the volcano:

Picture from Mt. St. Helens, Washington

Before the eruption Mt. St. Helens had an elevation of 9,677 ft (2,950 m) and the explosion ripped off over 1,000 feet of the mountain reducing its elevation to 8,363 ft (2,549 m):

Picture from Mt. St. Helens, Washington

The eruption also created a horseshoe shaped crater with a lava dome that rises out of the middle of it:

Picture from Mt. St. Helens, Washington

Here is a picture of Coldwater Lake which sits below Mt. St. Helens and was formed after a landslide caused by the eruption blocked the flow of Coldwater Creek thus forming the lake:

Picture from Mt. St. Helens, Washington

There is a visitor center at the end of Highway 505 with a viewing platform that provides some nice views of Mt. St. Helens:

Picture from Mt. St. Helens, Washington

Much like our visit to Mt. Rainier National Park we were once again fortunate to have beautiful blue skies the whole day we visited the park.  The beautiful weather also allowed us to have good views of the nearby Cascade Range as well:

Picture from Mt. St. Helens, Washington

Conclusion

If driving through southern Washington it is well worth making the side trip to drive up and see Mt. St. Helens if the weather is clear.  The volcano is quite scenic to see and one of the natural wonders of the United States.  I look forward to the opportunity of spending more time at this park in the future to explore some of the trails that lead up and around this iconic American mountain.

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