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Review of Mount St Helens Washington

Review of Mount St Helens, Washington

We were all excited to make the trip and also write a review of Mount St Helens for those who travel with kids.  Since we both grew up in the Pacific Northwest The Man and I were looking forward to taking the kids to see the “mountain that blew up”.  The day started with stellar roadschooling by watching old videos of Mount St Helens from filmmaker Michael Lienau whom we met a few years back in Kansas City of all places.  When St. Helens exploded Michael and two other men were dropped in via helicopter to document the historic event.  He quickly landed in a life threatening situation.  Thankfully he survived and was able to get the rare up close footage of Mount St Helens we are privileged to watch decades later.

Despite missing the correct exit on the way to Mount St Helens, which extended our trip a bit, the drive was beautiful.  We stopped at a few educational centers on the way to Johnston Ridge Observatory, the most popular point of interest.  Unfortunately, at no point did we meet a single friendly park ranger.  We were VERY disappointed with this park.  If you want to visit a place that is kid friendly you may want to avoid the Mount St Helens visitor centers.  Biggie and E set to climbing a mound next to the Johnston Ridge Observatory when an authoritative ranger promptly ran over and gave us the what for.  Something about being fined 100 bucks for each stick they touch.  The only highlight was the oral history of the mountain given by an enthusiastic ranger to a large group of visitors.

Having just visited Mount Rainier National Park a few days before and being absolutely raptured by its beauty I was taken aback by how different the two mountains are.  Mount St Helens has an eerie, ominous feeling to it.  I suppose it is what one would expect from a volcano but not having given it much thought I was unprepared for it.  Just as St Helens displays the unforgiving groanings of nature with a massive crater, I couldn’t help but feel a similar emptiness.  Looking upon the destruction that hollowed out mountain and the barren landscape beneath left me longing for LIFE.

Travel with kids travel tips:  Mount St Helens, Washington
  • Be ready to dress warm by bringing a jacket or sweatshirt.
  • Many of the attractions were closed when we went.  The best time to visit is between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
  • When you reach Johnston Ridge be sure to keep your kids on the trail.  The park rangers don’t have much patience those how disturb the landscape.
Pros:  Mount St Helens, Washington
  • An active piece of history
  • Has its own beauty which is unusual to experience first hand
  • Very educational and great for roadschooling
  • The gift shop has beautiful things made from volcanic ash from St. Helens.  How cool is that?!
Cons:  Mount St Helens, Washington
  • Not very kid friendly
  • Many of the visitor/educational centers along the way cost extra money
  • Ominous, eerie and unsettling feeling to it