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.

Displays include:
  • 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.


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Hours

March 1 - May 15, open daily 9:00 - 4:00
May 16 - September 15, open daily 9:00 - 5:00
September 16 - October 31, open daily 9:00 - 4:00 
November 1 - February 28, open Thursday through Monday 9:00 - 4:00

 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
  • Christmas

Admis‚Äčsion


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

Interpretive Programs

Guided interpretive programs are available seasonally. All programs are subject to cancellation due to inclement weather and staffing availability.

We are currently on our Fall 2016 schedule:

  • September: Friday through Sunday, talks at 10:00am, 11:30am, 1:00pm and guided walk at 2:00pm
  • October: Saturday and Sunday, talks at 10:30am, 12:30pm and guided walk at 2:00pm

Check webpage frequently for the most up-to-date program information.

Educational Groups
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.

Teachers can call (360) 274-0962 or email silver.lake@parks.wa.gov to register their school group. Upon approval a confirmation email will be sent. Schools can schedule park ranger guided programs and talks at the Mount St. Helens Visitor Center or in the classroom.

For sample curriculum, ideas, and activities in preparation for your visit refer to the links below:
 

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.