Multiple visitor centers remain open along Spirit Lake Highway after 2023 debris flow


Several recreational sites remain open to explore at Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument following the May 2023 debris flow, known as the South Coldwater Slide, according to a news release from the U.S. Forest Service.

The debris flow damaged the upper portion of state Route 504, also known as the Spirit Lake Memorial Highway, near milepost 49 leading up to the Johnston Ridge Observatory north of Mount St. Helens. Johnston Ridge Observatory is the only visitor center impacted by the slide along with some associated trailheads and recreation sites along the last 8 miles of state Route 504.

The highway remains open to milepost 43 near the Science and Learning Center at Coldwater.

The Forest Service is operating a visitor center at Coldwater and the Science and Learning Center is also open.

Coldwater Visitor Center is open for the season from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. seven days a week as of last Friday.  Multiple scenic viewpoints, including Elk Rock (milepost 37) and Castle Lake (milepost 40) are still accessible. Several visitor center options, including the Mount St. Helens Forest Learning Center at milepost 33 and the Washington State Park Mount St. Helens Visitor Center at Silver Lake off state Route 504 near Castle Rock remain open with opportunities to view Mount St. Helens and learn about the history, eruption and recovery of the volcano.

The upper portion of state Route 504, to the terminus at Johnston Ridge Observatory, remains closed and inaccessible by vehicle. Visitors should not venture beyond the highway closure at milepost 43 due to the instability of the hillside.

The U.S. Forest Service continues to coordinate with the Washington state Department of Transportation to restore access and utilities to Johnston Ridge Observatory. A permanent solution to restore access is being worked on. WSDOT currently does not estimate work to be completed before late summer of 2026.

As snow melts and U.S. Forest Service roads reopen for the season, additional recreational sites on the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument’s south and east sides and in the surrounding areas will open for visitors to explore.

For U.S. Forest Service information visit,

For WSDOT information visit

To view a South Coldwater Slide closure and vicinity map, visit