Mount St. Helens  (MSH)
Visitors Resource Packet
Compiled/Written by Lloyd & Doris Anderson
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Visitors Packet Main Page

Visitor/Resource Packet
Compiled/written by Lloyd and Doris Anderson

1a.  Packet Contents
(Outline not printed on folded sheets)

1.  Creation/Young Earth Support from MSH 
1a-b. This Introductory Page
1c.    7 Wonders Summary
1d.    Understanding Natural Disasters 
1e.    Dating Lava Dome Rock
1f.    Testimony of Dr. Gary Parker

2.  Studying MSH (3 sheets)
2a.   Volcanoes
2b.   The eruption 
2c.   Recovery of Life

3.  Seeing MSH (6 sheets; 1 brochure)
3a.   Johnston Ridge

3b.   Locating the 7 Wonders
3c.   West Side Attractions
3d.   SR 504 Mile by Mile
3e.   Hikes/Trails/Walks
3f.   East Side/South Side
3g.   Sources (Such as "WM" & "VR")
3h.   Planning Your Visit to MSH 
3i.   Tourist Brochure--Map/Lodging Directory

4.  Creation Center Services/Outreach
4a.   Our Brochure (first in packet)
4b.   Web Site Bookmarks
4c.   "Read Me" (when necessary)
4d.   Invoice/Order Form/Other (if needed)
4e.   Tour Information (Future Section)

1b.  Introduction

Significance of the Eruption.   The eruption of Mount St. Helens (abbreviated "MSH" in this packet) was the most destructive in the history of the United States.  Among the lower 48 states, it was the most powerful in the 20th century as well as the most recent. Its nearness to major research universities made it the most studied volcano in history and greatly increased man’s scientific knowledge of volcanoes. Because it erupted laterally, it gave volcanologists a new understanding of the ways of volcanoes.  But there was a spiritual dimension as well.  Leading creation scientists are persuaded God caused the eruption to rebuke evolution and give mankind fresh arguments for recent creation.

Much to learn.  Understanding how MSH supports creation and a young earth to refute evolution (see 1b, 1c) requires some understanding of many subjects--geology, volcanology, the geography of the area, the eruption and aftermath, Scripture, creation and evolution--a tall order. But a disciplined resolve to learn the material produces greater confidence in Scripture, greater love for God and the satisfaction of being able to answer the empty ideas of evolution.  This packet is designed to get you started.

Much to see and do.

West Side.  See 3a-3e.

Visit five major visitor centers and private attractions including the Creation Center linked by a $165 million highway. Walk to the top of the $66 million Sediment Retention Structure (SRS); Explore interpretive walks and trails. It takes more than one day to enjoy just the West Side features.

East Side.  See 3f.  Enjoy the best views of destroyed forests and Spirit Lake; take the best hikes.  Roads are secondary roads (Forest Service roads) which at times are crooked and steep.  The West Side and East Side highways come within six miles of each other, but a highway joining the two sides is years away.  It takes four hours of driving (160 miles) or 8 miles of hiking to get from one side to the other.

South Side.  See 3f.  Climb to the south rim; see remnants of previous eruptions such as a two-mile lava tube called Ape Cave, a lahar and a lava canyon.  On the south and southeast sides are both the scars from massive mudflows produced by the 1980 eruption and areas of great beauty, untouched by the eruption.

The Main Attraction.  On that day slightly over 20 years ago the mountain literally blew its top (see 2b).  It stood nearly one mile high from base to summit.  In nine hours it blew away 1/4 of its height as well as the next 1/2 of its insides and north side.  Initially it blew sideways to the north, destroying 230 square miles of forest in eight minutes.  So, where must you be to peer into the crater and see the desolation?  Generally, to the north of the mountain.  After the eruption the Federal government determined to make it the focus for scientists and citizens to learn about volcanoes.  Much of the highway that gets you there, State Route 504 (SR 504), was relocated from the mudflow-wracked Toutle valley to high above the valley floor.  It was built in stages until it arrived at a vista five miles north of the volcano.  Paralleling the highway’s construction was the development of $35 million worth of visitor centers.  Seventeen years after the main eruption, the crowning visitor center (Johnston Ridge Observatory--see 3a) opened.  From its observation deck, the awe-struck visitor peers five miles across a deep valley into the mouth of the crater.  There has never been a better time to visit Mount St. Helens.

Location/Blast Zone.  MSH is located in southwestern Washington State.  It is 45 air miles north of Portland and 100 air miles south of Seattle.  Primary access to the west side is SR 504 which intersects I-5 at Exit 49 (the Castle Rock exit).  SR 504 has a name--the Spirit Lake Memorial Highway.  Two designations for the same highway produce confusion.  Maps and signs use the number (SR 504); address listings require the name.  It is 53 miles from I-5 to the parking lot of the Johnston Ridge Observatory where SR 504 ends.  The Blast Zone is the 230 square miles on the north side of the mountain that suffered total destruction.  Unfortunately, most of the west side highway runs through private land which was replanted after much of the blown down timber was salvaged.  Today those 15-18 year old trees stand up to 55' tall and hide the scarred land.  This explains the bewilderment of tourists who wonder, “Where are all those toppled forests I saw in the pictures?”  The east side Forest Roads pass through the standing dead forests and vast stretches of fallen timber.


Full service restaurants: 
      West on SR505 (12 mi?)-Judy's Unique Dining
      MP19-Nineteen Mile House
      MP 27-Hoffstadt Bluffs (magnificent view)
Fast food: MP43-Coldwater Ridge Visitor Center 
Free coffee/cookies: MP 9.5-Creation Center
No food: Johnston Ridge & Weyerhaeuser
Lodging: See "Lodging" panel on tourist brochure

Monument/Fee.  Two years after the eruption, Congress designated 110,000 acres as the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument and dedicated it to scientific research, education and recreation.  Access to a large portion of the blast zone is restricted to scientists conducting research.  In the restricted zone the public is limited to the highways, viewpoints, visitor centers and a handful of trails.  There is a $100 fine for going outside of these areas.  Three-day user fees were set in 1997 and revised to daily fees in 2000.  Adults pay $3 to visit one visitor center or $6 for two or more.  Ages 5-15 pay $1. Golden Eagle, Golden Age and Golden Access Passports are honored.  Seniors can buy a lifetime Golden age Passport for $10.  It admits all occupants traveling in the passport holder's private vehicle.  Monument passes are sold at ten locations (visitor centers, information centers and ranger stations) but passports are only carried at  major locations.  User fees contribute to the continuing costs of operating the Monument.

Weather/Hours.  People come to MSH from all over the world and return without having seen the mountain.  Darkness and bad weather hide it 85% of the time.  While most would not make their pilgrimage to the mountain at night or in the dead of winter, even during the summer months the mountain remains elusive.  Come with a prayer and a determination to make the best of your visit.  The visitor centers provide pictures, replicas and movies of the mountain (usually in its fury).  One gets a lot of the mountain regardless of the weather.  (See 3g for the volcanocam web site.)  On January 2, 1999 the mountain was dazzlingly visible with a heavy white covering.  Yet on August 10-13 clouds, fog and rain hid the mountain.  On a hot summer day in 1997, I paid my first visit to the mountain.  Visibility was endless.  I dilly-dallied at the Sediment Retention Structure gift shop and museum.  When I arrived at the top, about 4:30, clouds were closing in on the mountain and soon it was peek-a-boo between the clouds.  Well, now you see it; now you don’t!  Coldwater Ridge Visitor Center is kept open year around, weather permitting, but Weyerhaeuser closes at the end of October and the dates for the Observatory are tentative.  See 3c and 3a for details.

Danger.  Authorities say there is little chance of the mountain erupting suddenly.  The one of 1980 was preceded by thousands of earthquakes.  They signaled that magma was rising from deep in the earth.  Of course, this opinion presumes the pressure from below builds slowly.  A vast surge of pressure is another story.  It would probably blow southwest Washington off the map.  Historically, MSH is the most active of the Cascade volcanoes with major activity every hundred years or so.

Sources/Authorities/Copying.  See 3g.

Packet Trivia.  This packet is a service, carefully researched & priced at our average cost. It contains about 28,000 words & 20 different items.  Share the web site bookmarks.  The second edition will replace two current pages with two pages of curriculum.  When available these will be faxed or e-mailed upon request to those who have previously purchased the packet.  Send us your suggestions-comments-questions.

Second Edition, revised 5/00,  ©1999 by
Mount St. Helens Creation Information Center

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