At the foot of Mt. St. Helens.
Last August’s road trip took me as far north as Mount St. Helens. I was extremely disappointed by the way the U.S. Government has turned a natural disaster site into an income-producing tourist attraction that requires a special National Parks Pass or admission fee for entrance. (Odd that a pass that can get me into parks like the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and Yellowstone won’t work at a volcano in Washington State.)
The last time Mike and I were at Mt. St. Helens was not long after its eruption back in the 1980s. The only approach to the site was from the southeast. So after taking a helicopter tour from the north side and being turned away at the visitor’s center, I drove around to the south side to see it the way I had years before, from Windy Ridge. Because there were no gift shops on that side, there weren’t many tourists and there were no rangers checking wrist bands. The experience was much more pleasant.
I took this shot of Spirit Lake from the parking area. Logs still float on the lake, but the photo features a nice reflection of the mountain and sky. Mt. St. Helens is to the left, out of the photo. When the volcano erupted, the side of the mountain slid down into the lake as a blast leveled all the trees in every direction for miles around.
The volcano was smoking when I visited in August 2005. But the area all around was lush and green — quite a difference from the ash-covered landscape we’d seen years before. I made quite a few stops along the way to Windy Ridge, taking time for short hikes and photos.
If you ever get up that way, skip the Visitor Center and its “interpretations” on the north side. Come in from the southeast to Windy Ridge and see the sights without the tourists.
Mount St. Helens, volcano, Windy Ridge, Spirit Lake