Family Fun Spots in Washington: Mount St. Helens

Mount St. Helens Visitor Centers
You know how it is…you live somewhere forever but never seem to make it to the tourist destinations? Well, spring is the season to head to one or all three of Mount St. Helens Visitor Centers. You’ll still contend with your fair share of tourists but it’s much more mellow than the summer season (as long as you avoid spring break weeks). Each one has its own, themed exhibits. If one or more of your clan is interested in the celestial world, make it a point to stop by the Johnston Ridge Observatory open from May through October.mt st helens

In and around the visitor centers there is ample access to hiking, climbing and outdoor adventures, as well as restaurants, shops and – of course – a visit to the famous Crater.

Ape Caves (near Battle Ground)

Another spot we recommend if you’re headed towards Mt. St. Helens is the Ape Caves, located on the south side of Mt. St. Helens and accessible from Woodland. These caves are actually a cave lava tube. Measuring roughly 2-miles, it’s the largest cave lava tube in the continental United States. While we’re including this in our “springtime” recommendations, the caves aren’t open until June if you don’t own or plan to rent snow shoes.

The lower caves are fine for beginner hikers and are just under a mile from start to finish. The upper-portion of the caves is 1.5-miles and takes about 2.5 hours – and best left to more experienced hikers. If you’re a Bigfoot buff, there have been sightings of this illusive creature in the Mt. St. Helens area over the years.

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