Mount St. Helens is one of the most famous volcanoes on Earth, gaining worldwide attention after a 1980 earthquake caused the largest recorded landslide on record, which was then taken over by an eruption that leveled a 12-mile radius of trees, caused floods that destroyed parks and roads, and lead to a 12-mile high gas cloud that carried ash across the globe over the next two weeks. It was a scary time in Washington’s history, with 57 people losing their lives, millions of animals being killed or displaced, and the mountain losing 1,700 feet in elevation. Any Washingtonian born before 1975 could likely tell you where they were the moment the eruption occurred.
Despite all this, the mountain still stands as a beautiful symbol of the Pacific Northwest and provides a place for hundreds of thousands of visitors each year to hike, photograph, and learn about the history of the eruption. The Mount St. Helens Visitor Center in Castle Rock is the closest to the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail and the gateway to the Mount St. Helens National Monument. it provides a great foundation of information, before you continue down the long road to the other visitor centers, and ultimately, the mountain itself.