The most requested directions at the Visitor Information Center in the Skamania County Chamber of Commerce are for the southeastern entry to Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. Incorporate the trip to the mountain with two or three nights at one of our lodging facilities and enjoy the perfect Skamania County experience.
How often in one's lifetime will you have the chance to see an active volcano? Mt. St. Helens is just a 90-minute drive from Stevenson, Washington and well worth the time. For a unique route, follow Highway 14 east from Stevenson about three miles to the Carson Junction. Turn north on Wind River Highway (FS 30) and follow the signs north to the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. A quick stop at the Carson National Fish Hatchery to watch fish spawning is educational and fun. Drive slowly through the Gifford Pinchot National Forest because you don't want to miss anything - including sighting a herd of elk that may be sauntering along the road. Make sure to stop at McClellan Viewpoint along the way for a great photo opportunity as it is the first time you will spy Mount St. Helens. At the intersection of Curly Creek Road and FS 90 Road, stop at the Eagle Cliff Store to enjoy some of the local scenery. Buy a post card, soft drink or just enjoy the quiet of the forest. From there head north on FS 25 Road toward Windy Ridge. When you turn off of FS 25 onto FS 99 toward Windy Ridge, make note of the interpretive signage along the way.
Plan to stop and enjoy this trip back to 1980 when Mt. St. Helens erupted. The road into Windy Ridge is a great example of how the flora and fauna has changed since that dramatic reminder of Mother's Nature power. And the signs will tell the story with some very visual markers. Once you arrive at the viewpoint at Windy Ridge, take the time to walk the 357 steps to the top of the ridge where you can almost reach out and touch the crater or look right down into Spirit Lake. After re-tracing your steps back FS 99 and FS 25, continue west on FS 90 past Swift Reservoir and Yale Lake. This road will take you to I-5 and you can travel south to hook up with Highway 14 again and head east back to the Gorge. Make sure to stop at the viewpoint at Cape Horn and enjoy the breathtaking views of the Columbia River Gorge. After the exhilarating day of volcano viewing, choose from one of our many fantastic restaurants to re-live the events of the day.
If you are interested in learning more about Mt. St. Helens or, perhaps, even volunteering to be part of the interpretive programs that enhance the experience, Mt. St. Helens Institute offers a variety of opportunities. Visit www.mshinstitute.org.