Trip Date: September 6th, 2020
Today was a beautiful day to go out and visit the Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument. Danny, Emma and I traveled down on the west side of the mountain today, driving up to the Johnston Ridge Observatory area of the monument. We have visited the eastern side of the mountain multiple times before, at the Windy Ridge Viewpoint, but had not yet traveled up to the observatory area.
The total devastation of the vegetation and transformation of the landscape created by the volcanic eruption in 1980 is still front and center to see, even when visiting 40 years later. The forests on the west side are recovering nicely, with obvious groves of different tree types planted on the mountain slopes. Dense groves of Noble Fir trees are particularly spectacular to see along Hwy 504.
The roadwork necessary to get back into the area was quite impressive. Multiple bridges and road switch backs were necessary to span the valleys on the way back to Johnston Ridge. The enormous 2,340 foot steel truss bridge across the Hoffstadt Creek is great to drive over and even better to photograph from the roadside park on the west side of the bridge.
Informational signs at a few of the roadside pullouts and viewpoints along Hwy 504, heading into the National Monument.