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Photo Gallery: Hiking Mount St. Helens

Posted On January 29, 2017 at 4:07 am by / Comments Off on Photo Gallery: Hiking Mount St. Helens

Crater rim of St. Helens.

My family at the crater rim of Mount St. Helens, with Mount Adams in the distance.

By Michael Lanza

More than three decades after it erupted, Mount St. Helens has become one of the most sought-after summits in the country—for good reason. Hikers on the standard Monitor Ridge route, on the mountain’s south side, begin in shady, cool, temperate rainforest, but soon emerge onto a stark, gray and black moonscape of volcanic rocks, pumice, and ash, with little vegetation and sweeping views of the Cascade Mountains. From the crater rim, you get a panorama that could steal the breath away from God.

And the time to get a permit to climb St. Helens this year is coming up.

The rim’s crumbling cliffs send small landslides down into the vast hole—2,000 feet deep and nearly two miles across—created by the eruption that decapitated St. Helens almost a generation ago. Ice-capped volcanoes dominate three horizons: Rainier, Adams, Hood, and Jefferson. See the photo gallery below from my family’s three-generation hike up St. Helens.

Dayhiking 8,363-foot Mount St. Helens is so enormously popular—nearly 14,000 people attempt it every year—that you can’t spontaneously decide to do it. (It’s also one of my top 10 family adventures.) From April 1 to Oct. 31, every climber above 4,800 feet on Mount St. Helens must have a permit that costs $22 per person and is one of the hardest backcountry permits to get on U.S. public lands.

Permits for climbing St. Helens between May 15 and Oct. 31 go on sale online on Feb. 1, at 9 a.m (Pacific Standard Time). By early spring, every one of the 100 permits issued per day will be sold out. Apply as soon as permits go on sale at

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If you cannot get a permit for your desired dates through the online application process, get on the waiting list at Because people reserve months in advance, there are always permit holders interested in selling, and rules prohibit selling permits for any more than the regular price of $22.


Got a trip coming up? See my reviews of the best gear duffles and luggage and 6 favorite daypacks.


Mount Hood from Monitor Ridge.
Nate, Marco hiking Monitor Ridge.
Alex hiking Monitor Ridge.
Nate and Alex hiking Monitor Ridge.
Crater rim of St. Helens.
Crater rim of St. Helens.
View toward Mount Rainier.


Read my story about our three-generation hike of Mount St. Helens, with more photos, a video, and tips on how to pull it off yourself.

See all of my stories about family adventures at The Big Outside, and these stories:

5 Tricks For Getting Tired Kids Through a Hike
Are You Ready For That New Outdoors Adventure? 5 Questions to Ask Yourself
What Should I Wear? How to Dress for Outdoor Adventures
10 Tips For Raising Outdoors-Loving Kids


Do you like The Big Outside? I’m Michael Lanza, the creator of The Big Outside, recognized as a top outdoors blog by USA Today, a Trip Advisor site, and others. Get email updates about new stories and free gear giveaways by entering your email address in the box at the bottom of this story, in the left sidebar, or on my About page, and follow my adventures on Facebook and Twitter.

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