After months of activity, Mount St. Helens erupted on May 18th, 1980, causing immense destruction to the surrounding country. Today, it is a quiet, snow-capped mountain with a large chunk missing from its north side (see photo #1, at left). We visited the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument in late June, on a perfect day with blue skies, pleasant temperatures, and wildflowers in bloom wherever we went. It could not have been more perfect.
After the eruption, the US government put a lot of money into creating a monument where visitors could get a really good understanding of what had happened here. They built a new highway into the area, with all new bridges for easy access. The Johnston Ridge Observatory provides excellent learning opportunities, including a must-see movie that plays every hour or so. You have to see the ending! It is creative and clever, and you won't forget it.