Mount St. Helens Visitor Center
The Mount St. Helens Visitor Center opened its doors to the public a few years after the monumental eruption of Mount St. Helens. Functioning as a gateway to the mountain, over 30 miles away, our goal is to educate visitors on the historical significance of the landscape before and during the eruption. We also focus on the resulting impact on nearby ecosystems. Our vantage point offers a view of the Western slope of the mountain, visible from both our center and walking trail.
This unique building features expansive windows providing a glimpse of towering second-growth forest all around. A high archway and elaborately carved wooden columns contribute to the feeling of magnificence. Inside, visitors can enjoy a variety of interpretive displays that include comprehensive information on local history, geology, and re-growth and recovery of the land in the years immediately after the eruption.
- Large, step-in model of the volcano
- Life-size mannequins
- Functioning seismograph and live feed of current Mount St. Helens volcano seismicity
- Chronological timeline of events leading up to the volcanic blast on May 18, 1980
- Theater program offered twice an hour; at :05 and :35 after.
Outdoors, visitors can explore Silver Lake along the 0.6 mile-long trail, including boardwalks over the wetland where a variety of aquatic plants and migratory waterfowl can be viewed at different times of the year.
3029 Spirit Lake Highway
Castle Rock, WA 98611
Phone: (360) 274-0962
March 1 - May 31, open daily 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
June 1 - Sept. 15, open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The center is closed in observance of the following holidays:
- New Year's Day
- Martin Luther King Jr. Day
- Presidents' Day
- Veterans Day
- Thanksgiving and the Friday after
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, and if completing an assignment during their visit related to the science and history of the area.
To register a school group for a visit, teachers need to complete the group registration form (PDF) and return it via email to the park staff. Upon approval, a confirmation email will be sent. Teachers may schedule park ranger guided programs and talks at the Mount St. Helens Visitor Center or in the classroom. For more information, call 360-274-0962.
For sample curriculum, ideas and activities in preparation for your visit refer to the links below:
- Pre-visit Lesson: Grades K-2 (PDF)
- Pre-visit Lesson: Grades 3-5 (PDF)
- Pre-visit Lesson: Middle and High School (PDF)
- Activity Sheet: Grades K-2 (PDF)
- Activity Sheet: Grades 3-5 (PDF)
- Activity Sheet: Middle School (PDF)
- Activity Sheet: High School (PDF)
- USGS Mount St. Helens Publications
All tour groups that are not a K-12 or university, must have a valid Commercial Use Permit to visit the Mount St. Helens Visitor Center. The cost is $165 per bus while the visitor center is closed for renovations. The per person fee for the permit is waived at this location. The Discover Pass is also not required at this location. Interpretive Center Staff strongly suggest tour groups contact them early in the season with their proposed tour dates for the year. Please allow up to 30 days to receive your permit. To apply, click here.
Nearby visitor centers
The Mount St. Helens Visitor Center at Silver Lake is one of several Interpretive Centers located on the Spirit Lake Highway with information about the volcano. The Forest Learning Center, operated by Weyerhaeuser is located at milepost 37. The Science Learning Center, operated by the Mount St. Helens Institute is at milepost 43. The Johnston Ridge Observatory, operated by the U.S. Forest Service is at milepost 52, for more information about their facility please visit the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument site. For field trip planning, visit their Teacher's Corner page.