Interpretive and Visitor Centers • Lewis & Clark • North Head Lighthouse • Mt. St. Helens • Sacajawea • Dry Falls
Since October of 2000, Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission has operated the
Mount St. Helens Visitor Center at Silver Lake as a result of a partnership agreement
(under a special use permit) with the United States Forest Service. In May of 2007, Washington
State Parks accepted ownership of the center from the U.S. Forest Service. The center, which
opened in 1987, plays host to more than 300,000 visitors a year.
Built in the architectural mode known as Cascade style, the Silver Lake visitor center
won a design award from President Ronald Reagan in 1988.
Its large windows and sweeping, upward lines contribute to the feeling of magnificence
surrounding the mountain. Inside, visitors may enjoy a variety of interpretive displays
that set the scene for all the visitor centers at Mount St. Helens. There are comprehensive
presentations on the cultural and historical significance of the area, a chronology of events
leading up to the volcanic blast on May 18, 1980, local geology, and the re-growth and recovery
of the area in the years since the eruption. Displays include several interactive exhibits,
life-size manikins, a large, step-in model of the volcano and a working seismograph.
Theater programs are offered twice an hour.
Outdoors, visitors can explore Silver Lake via a mile-long trail, including boardwalks over
wetlands where a variety of migratory waterfowl may be viewed at different times of the year.
The Mount St. Helens Silver Lake Visitor Center is on State Parks land adjacent to Seaquest
State Park on State Route 504, five miles east of Interstate 5.
May 16 to Sept. 15: Open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sept. 16 to May 15: Open daily 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The center is closed in observance of the following holidays:
New Year's Day - Jan. 1
Martin Luther King Jr. Day - Third Monday in January
Presidents' Day - Third Monday in February
Veterans Day - Nov. 11
Thanksgiving - Fourth Thursday and Friday in November
Christmas - Dec. 25
Admission prices for the Mount St. Helens Visitor Center at Silver Lake are:
Ages 6 and younger: Free
Ages 7 to 17: $2.50
Ages 18 and older: $5
Family: $15 (two adults plus accompanying children)
Tour groups: $165 per bus
The following State Parks passes are honored at the Silver Lake Visitor Center:
Senior limited-income: Half price
Disabled pass: Half price
Disabled veterans' pass: Free admission
There is no admission charge for educational groups kindergarten through university,
if pre-registered. Call (360) 274-0962 or visit the teachers' corner at
http://www.fs.fed.us/gpnf/mshnvm/ to register.
Schools may schedule park rangers to provide interpretive talks for earth-science programs at the
visitor center or in the classroom. Please call (360) 274-0962 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nearby visitor centers
The Mount St. Helens Visitor Center at Silver Lake is one of two visitor centers with information
about the volcano. The USDA Forest Service operates the Johnston Ridge Observatory, which is located at
milepost 52 on State Route 504. For information about this center, please visit the Mount St. Helens
National Volcanic Monument site at http://www.fs.fed.us/gpnf/mshnvm/
or call (360) 449-7800.