School Visit Information

West Side

Mount St Helens Visitor Center at Silver Lake is operated by Washington State Parks and Recreation, they are open seven days a week from 9am to 5pm during the summer months, 360-274-0962.  Hours for fall, winter, spring are somewhat reduced.

For use of the Mount St. Helens Science and Learning Center at Coldwater contact for renting the building and for education programs.  To learn more about the Mount St. Helens Institutute’s educational programs and opportunities, visit .

To allow for a better educational experience for all, there is a limit of 350 students per day at Johnston Ridge Observatory.  We will NOT accept reservations on dates listed as FULL and no additional fee waivers will be granted.

Johnston Ridge will be open May 15 thru October 27, 2019 for seven day a week operation 10am-6pm.  Tentatively, our plan is to open May 13 thru November 1, 2020.

If your group is visiting Johnston Ridge at any time May thru October and would like a fee waiver for your group, the confirmation of your request is your fee waiver.

Teachers can reserve a 20-30 minute school program with a Ranger at Johnston Ridge Observatory, May 20 thru June 14, 2019 for our spring field trips and September 23 thru October 11, 2019 for the fall.  Three programs will be offered in 2019, Monday-Friday at 10:00 am, 11:00 am, and 12pm.  Schools will only be allowed to reserve two slots for their group, first registered, first served.  Most programs last about 20 minutes.  If these program times don’t work for your group, your group is welcome to participate in the public programs at 10 minutes after each hour, starting at 1:10pm.   To learn more about the Ranger-led programs check the Teacher’s Corner.

South Side

The maximum number of students allowed at Ape Cave is 200 students/day.
We will NOT accept reservations on dates listed as FULL and no additional fee waivers will be granted.  Besides Ape Cave, school groups can also visit Lava Canyon and Trail of Two Forests.

Ranger assistance is available upon request at Ape Cave only, Monday thru Friday from May 20 thru June 14, 2019 and September 23 thru October 11, 2019.

All educational groups are required to register, including colleges and homeschools.  Other clubs/organizations are encouraged to register as well, so we can coordinate arrival times.

In an effort to strive for a high quality educational and recreational environment no school will be allowed to register for an arrival time of any less than 1 hour apart from other registered schools. 

Rangers aim to provide a brief introduction to ALL groups to talk about the cave, rules to follow, and white nose syndrome.

Both Sides of the Mountain

Chaperones and teachers must remain with their groups and attend all programs. The ranger is there to teach and lead the activities. Chaperones and teachers are responsible for:

  1. Ensuring that students behave in a respectful manner towards the ranger and other visitors;
  2. Making sure that students do not damage exhibits or facilities;
  3. Ensuring that students stay on the trails and on pavement at all times;
  4. Helping students complete their assignments; and,
  5. Making sure students don’t damage or remove resources, such as plants and rocks.

Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument is a federally protected educational, research and scientific site. Penalties for damaging this resource and/or removing plants, rocks and other artifacts may range up to a $5,000 fine and/or six months in jail.