Volcano Camping Adventure at Mount St. Helens

NSWA experienced the majesty, awesome destruction, and amazing rebirth of the Pacific Northwest’s most violent volcano on our first-ever camping adventure Aug. 2 – Aug. 4. Hosted by the Mount St. Helens Institute, we saw parts of the national monument that few ever experience.

Expert-led day hikes and field seminars took us into the blast zone and around lakes that propelled the regeneration of life after the 1980 eruption. Campfire talks by scientists and expert guides recounted the day the mountain exploded and the insights that researchers have gained from the disturbance.

Thank you to Eileen, Sierra, Madi and Cary with MSHI and Nathan of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe for their enthusiasm and expert guidance on our adventure!


Pumice Plain Hike and Geology Field Seminar (Sat.): This geologist-led hike departed Saturday morning and followed a 7-mile loop from the Windy Ridge Viewpoint down the Truman Trail and around the pumice plain in the blast zone of the 1980 eruption. We passed extraordinary geologic features, Spirit Lake, Loowit Falls, and a freshwater spring.

Hidden Lakes Hike and Ecology Field Seminar (Sun.): This ecologist-led adventure departed Sunday morning and included access to two trailheads for 0.5- to 2-mile hikes down to Meta Lake and Ghost Lake, where life that amazingly survived the eruption seeded the decades-long regeneration of the ecosystem. On the shorter, paved walk to Meta Lake, we took the boardwalk to see a miners’ car mangled by the 300 mph wall of debris that slammed through the forest in 1980. On the longer hike to Ghost Lake, we passed through elk and beaver habitat and arrived at a hidden lake where demolished and undisturbed forest met (and then ate lunch).