Windy Ridge and visitor centers at Mount St. Helens open July 4


Those looking for stunning views close to the crater of Mount St. Helens are in luck: The Windy Ridge Interpretive Site and nearby visitor centers will open to the public Thursday, July 4, according to the U.S. Forest Service. 

As Forest Road 99 leading to the Windy Ridge viewpoint on the northeast side of Mount St. Helens opens, access to the interpretive site and visitor centers will become available for visitors to the volcano. 

A road closure remains on Forest Road 25, south of Forest Road 99, due to last year’s landslide. Windy Ridge is only accessible from the north on Forest Road 25 from Randle. The southern extent of the Forest Road 25 road closure is located at milepost 38.6 just north of the Forest Road 93 junction, according to the Forest Service.

Windy Ridge is a viable alternative for viewing the northern side of the mountain after a debris slide in May 2023 took out Spirit Lake Memorial Highway and drivers’ access to Johnston Ridge Observatory, the closest, easily accessible look at the crater caused by the 1980 eruption.

Visitors on Spirit Lake Memorial Highway can still reach Coldwater Lake, the Hummocks Trail and the Science and Learning Center. 

Windy Ridge, however, offers a closer look at the volcano, Spirit Lake and the surrounding landscape. 

“Located just 5 miles from Mount St. Helens, Windy Ridge Interpretive Site provides a close-up view of the volcano's crater and a breathtaking panorama of a landscape radically changed during the 1980 eruption and landslide,” the Forest Service states online. “Below you lies Spirit Lake, with its floating log mat of huge trees swept into it during the eruption. Beyond, view a plain of pumice and ash and denuded hills, still fairly barren but greening with vegetation. Climb a 368-step sand ladder for a higher view. Read interpretive signs to learn about the events and people of the eruption. During summer, join an interpretive program presented at the site's amphitheater. The site is accessible and memorable for all.”

Learn more about Windy Ridge at

Visitor and information centers open on the July 4 holiday include:

Science & Learning Center at Coldwater, open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily

Ape Cave, open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (reservations required)

• Washington State Parks Mount St. Helens Visitor Center, open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily