I haven’t been to Mount Saint Helens since I was about 5 years old, only a handful of years after the eruption that decimated the surrounding forests, leveled half the mountain and spewed ash into the air for hundreds of miles in every direction. The eruption of Mt. Saint Helens was a very dramatic event for the Pacific Northwest and although it led the news for many years after it seems like in the last decade it’s become sort of an unappreciated step-child of Mount Rainier, it’s larger sibling not too far away. That’s unfortunate, because although I didn’t remember much about my last trip to Mount St. Helens, I was absolutely blown away by the immensity and beauty of the area this time around. The terrain, the vistas, and the magnitude of destruction still visible today makes for some of the most interesting exploring in our region.
Surrounded by hundreds of thousands of acres of National Forest, Mount Saint Helens is an adventurer’s dream. Forest Service roads lead to unmarked vistas at every other turn, trails lead off into the wilderness seemingly everywhere you look, and best of all there are very few gates restricting access. One of the best things about the area is how varied the terrain is – from rain forest-like spots to alpine wilderness to almost desert-like wasteland, there is plenty to see and it will definitely keep your attention. There are many designated and maintained campgrounds throughout the area as well as dispersed camping available in some areas (contact the local ranger district for more information).