There are five Mount St. Helens visitor centers located on State Highway 504 , the main route into the National Volcanic Monument. Each offers different educational exhibits and viewing opprtunities, along with shops, refreshments and restrooms. Most offer acess to trails.
The best way to experience the mountain is to spend a full day, or more, driving east on highway 504, stopping at the visitors centers, trails, and view points along the way. The extent of the devastation - obvious even two decades after the 1980 eruption - unfolds with each mile.
Ideally, you will be able to spend at least two days visiting Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. This will allow you time to not only enjoy experiencing the education and views from the visitor centers, but to travel to those attractions on the east and south sides of the volcano. You will also have time to choose from a long list of outdoor recreational opportunities.
If you only have a short time to spend on your visit, the visitor center at Silver Lake is located just off Interstate 5 and offers excellent exhibits and a moving film. if you have time to drive all the way in,but can only stop at a single visitor center, choose either the Coldwater Ridge Visitor Center or the Johnston Ridge Observatory. Both offer stunning views of the volcanos crater.