Our trip to Washington and Cruise to Alaska travel blog

Map of the area.

First View of Mt St Helen

The mud slide area. This is 34 years after it happened.

Mt St Helens 12 miles away.You can see the top missing and...

Mt St Helens and the mud slide area.

Mt St Helens from the main visitors center. You can see that...

This is a close up of the mountain. The bump in the...

This is looking at Spirit Lake. The lake used to be a...

Again, most of this was all forest. The whole side of the...

This is looking away from the mountain and you can see the...

Picture of Mt St Helens before the blast.

Picture of Mt St Helens after the blast.

The deck overlooking the river where we had lunch.

Patty's Place where we had dinner.


Today started as a lazy day, we slept in till 8 AM, had a nice breakfast and puttered around for a little while. We finally got into the car at 10:30 to start our trip to Mt. St. Helens. We had a 10 mile drive north on I-5 to the W-504, which is the main road to Mt St Helens. Our first stop was at the state visitor's center which is within 5 miles of the freeway but is 50 miles from the mountain. On clear days you can see the mountain, but this morning it was cloudy so we couldn't see it.

Back in spring 1994 after Charlotte and I had been rudely removed from our home in Canoga Park due to the earthquake, we decided to take a trip to several cities to check them out for a possible move. When I discussed this trip with my mom, she said that she would like to join us. Then when I was talking to my daughter Sara, she stated that she wanted to join us. So off we went from Pasadena to Sacramento to Portland to Seattle to Boise to Reno to Pasadena. All in 5 days. On this trip we stopped at this visitors center and wanted to also go on to the main National Parks Service visitors center but we did not have the time. We said that we would have to come back and do that. Well, we did, 20 years later.

The road was straight and good. We had to drive 50 miles but it was a very nice drive (photo). At about the 25 mile point we saw a sign for the Sediment Dam. Back in 1980 when the mountain blew, a lot of the trees were blown into the lakes which made them overflow there dams. That water, and all of the snow on the mountain that instantly melted in the blast, caused a huge mud slide that flowed down the river for 50 miles. This mud slide was filled with all kinds of debris and sediment that just devastated everything in its path. So they created this dam to stop it.

At about the 30 mile point we came around a bend, and there was Mt St Helens, snow covered and looking like part of it was missing (which it was) (photo). After a few more miles we came to a viewing area that we could see the mountain, the main blast area, and the mud slide flow area (photo). At this point is where you discover the real power of what happened. We are still 15 miles from the mountain and you can still see devastation this caused (photo). Back on the road we immediately come to a sign that says entering the blast zone. This blast knocked trees down up to 12 miles away. A lot of the area at this point has now been reforested, but at about 5 miles away they have left everything as it was and you can see how nature is healing itself.

We drive on to the main Visitors Center which is just across from the mountain. You are looking right into the blast area of the mountain, and can see the new lava dome that has developed. I cannot describe fully what I saw. Pictures do not do justice to what you are seeing. You have to stand here at this visitors center and see it for yourself. I have also included in the pictures a picture of the mountain before the blast, and one after.

Driving back to our campsite we stopped at a nice little restaurant that had been recommended that was on the river. Wonderful dinner (photo). Then back to our home. Charlotte was feeling tired and laid down to rest, and I took a walk on the dyke and got in a good 3 1/2 mile walk.



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