Spirit Lake Hwy

Note: this road is closed during winter.
Length: 51 miles (1 hour 5 min), one way
Overall Rating:
08 - Highly Recommended
09 - Dramatic
07 - Some great sections
08 - Quiet, occasional traffic in peak season

Washington’s Spirit Lake Hwy is a 51-mile side-trip to Mt St Helens National Monument. Its long sweeping curves transits the western side of the Cascade mountains and valleys, and terminates at the Johnson Ridge Observatory below the volcano (the ridge and observatory were named after the geologist that perished in the 1980 eruption).

While the drive is renowned in these parts (especially by motorcyclists), I may have had the opportunity to experience it at its best. It was a beautiful September evening (just prior to sundown), and not a soul was on the road nor at the parking lot at the end of the drive. It was spooky – being alone in the shadow of this monstrous volcano, and able to look over so many square miles of devastation at the observatory. To top it off there was absolutely no sound whatsoever – no birds, no wind, and no signs of life outside some of the small trees that were trying to grow in the volcanic ash.

  • Mt St Helens

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