Our next destination was Mt St Helens so we choose a campground which had good access to the national monument. We found a cute little campground (11 RV sites and 11 tent sites) with some good reviews called Harry Gardner County Park. This park sits along the South Toutle River and was destroyed by the Mt St Helens eruption in May of 1980. It has since been brought back to how it was pre-eruption.
Campground: Harry Gardner County Park
Location: Toutle, Washington
Site: 8 (back-in)
Services: E/W (50AMP) – Dump on site
Comments: An OK campground with great access to Mt. St Helens National Monument. There is a nice gas station and small grocery store about a mile away and is very convenient. The campground is small and right along a logging road so there is a bit of noise (to be gentle with my comment) throughout the night with big logging trucks driving by. After a few nights you just sleep right through it. To quote the Blues Brothers: “How often does the train go by? So often you don’t even notice it”.
The other sites were all very similar to ours but some were tucked back a bit further in the trees for better privacy. The campground was full the first few nights we were there and then emptied out and soon we were almost all alone.
We saw a sign at the campground that we had never seen at any campground in North America before. It was very interesting and of course, we obeyed!!! It means, don’t fill your water tank and then eventually leave. I guess if you fill or put water in your water tank and then you eventually depart then you must drain your water tank before you leave.
There is a short hiking trail nearby which leads through the woods and along the South Toutle River. You can see the chimney remnants of a house buried from the Mt St Helens eruption in 1980.
Mt St Helens is a national monument and is about about a 45 minute drive from our campground to the Johnson Ridge observatory. Along the way there are multiple viewpoints and a lovely lake called Coldwater. It is hard to believe that the eruption was 41 years ago and even more amazing is seeing photos/videos of the destruction and then seeing how the landscape has been renewed over the years.
It was a perfect day with perfect weather and a beautiful drive.