Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM Lens
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Johnston Ridge view of Mount St. Helens & Milky Way

Experience the beauty of Mount St. Helens from this easily accessible viewpoint and take in the colorful wildflowers along the trail. For the more adventurous, plan a nighttime visit and capture the incredible beauty of the Milky Way on a clear summer's night.



Skill level

Public Location


Anytime (pending the trail being open). Check the website for closures: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/giffordpinchot/recarea/?recid=31562


Observatory and adjacent trails fee is $8, or free with a Northwest Forest Pass or an America the Beautiful Pass


  • Wide-angle lens (16mm)
  • Tripod
  • Flashlight/headlamp
  • Several layers of warm clothes

How to get there

N46° 16' 21.324"W122° 12' 27.0936"
This photo of Mount St. Helen's was taken near the start of the Boundary Trail at Johnston Ridge Observatory. The easiest way to get to this location is by car. After reaching the end of Spirit Lake Hwy (Hwy 504), park in the Observatory parking lot (46.277576, -122.216222) and then you can either start the Boundary Trail from the sign in the parking area or you can first visit the Observatory and then walk along the ridge on the Eruption Trail. While you may wish to access the same location via the GPS coordinates, the location I used was a perfect grouping of wildflowers that just happened to be in the right place when I visited. So when you visit, I suggest you just walk along the Boundary Trail and Eruption Trail and look for what flowers are best at whatever time of year you're visiting. Please consider the flora and fauna while shooting and stick to the trails to avoid causing any unnecessary damage.


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