Base Camp at Mount St. Helens 


Base Camp Dates for 2024

Friday, July 26, 2024, 3:00 PM - Sunday, July 28, 2024, 11:00 AM
Friday, August 30, 2024, 3:00 PM - Sunday, September 1, 2024, 11:00 AM

What is Base Camp?

Base Camp is a rare and exciting opportunity for folks to camp on the north side of Mount St. Helens. Bring your camping gear, set up for the weekend, and participate in all the mountain has to offer. Gaze into the blast zone and enjoy grand views in all directions, go on a self-guided adventure, or join us for a guided hike on the hummocks.  You can launch all your adventures from Base Camp Mount St. Helens, located at the Science and Learning Center above Coldwater Lake. In the evenings, enjoy dinner with us, then visit our decadent smores bar, before winding down at the community campfire with your fellow campers.

Who is it for?

Everyone! All ages are welcome. Youth must be accompanied by an adult

What's included?

  • Camp or RV site 
  • Delicious meals prepared in our kitchen
  • Guided activities with our knowledgable staff & volunteers
  • Self-guided activity pack for unstructured playtime
  • Access to the Science and Learning Center (SLC)
  • Access to flush toilets and running water in the SLC
  • Access to the SLC board game library
  • Access to the SLC art cart
  • Access to the SLC's collection of natural history books
  • Borrow binoculars for wildlife spotting
  • A Saturday evening talk with an amazing guest speaker
  • Saturday night s'mores by the campfire
  • and more!

What do I need to bring?

  • Snacks
  • Camping gear, including your tent or RV
  • Your sense of adventure
  • Any gear you'll need for self-guided adventures, such as kayaks, hiking gear, fishing poles, etc. You can read our suggested packing list here
  • Please read our program policies


"Awesome experience camping in the National Monument that allow easy access to so many different activities without having to leave the park everyday."
- Kenneth
"Free flowing-loved that we could feel free to join in on activities or do our own thing."
- Lori
"Summer Camp for Grown-Ups. A fully supported experience (food and guided activities), but also opportunity to choose your own adventure."
- Becca


Are children allowed?

Yes, they are an additional attendee. Also, check out Family Adventure Camp.

Are dogs allowed?

Unfortunately, no. We love our furry friends but dogs are not permitted at this event. 

Can you accommodate my dietary allergies or restrictions?

Typically, yes. After registration, you will receive a confirmation email with a link for a Participant Information Form. Please complete this for all attendees. There is a question to help us accommodate your dietary needs. While we can prepare meals to accommodate most needs, note that we cannot guarantee an allergen-free kitchen. If you have questions email

Can I put more than one RV or tent on a site?

That depends.  Tent sites are 10' x 10'. RV sites are either 18'x50' or 18'x30'. Sites are first come, first served. 

Can I park near the tent site?

No, tent sites are a short walk from the unload area on a ridge overlooking Coldwater Lake with views of Mount St. Helens. 

Can I tent in an RV spot?

Maybe. RV sites are in a parking lot with great views of Mount St. Helens.   

Can I select a tent or RV site next to friends or family?

Yes, if there are neighboring tent/RV sites still available.  Sites are first come, first served.

Do I need to bring my own gear for outdoor activities?

You will need to supply your own outdoor gear if you plan to bike, boat, or fish.

Will there be any guided hikes?

There will be a guided hike Saturday morning.  

What other activities are there?

We will have a guest speaker and a s'mores bar Saturday evening. There will also be activities, books and crafts available in and around the Science and Learning Center. 

What activities can I do on my own?

You can go mountain biking on South Coldwater Ridge, fishing in Coldwater Lake (WDFW license required), kayaking in Coldwater Lake, hiking on numerous trails, reading a book or playing games at your tent/RV site while enjoying the views. 

What kind of bathrooms are there?

There are two well-maintained portable toilets near the campground. The Science and Learning Center has flush toilets and running, but we do not have showers. 

Do you still have questions?

Email or call (360) 449-7883. 

Additional Information

Mount St. Helens Institute operates under a special use permit from the US Forest Service and is honored to work on the Traditional Cultural Property, ancestral and present day lands of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation. Mount St. Helens Institute is an equal opportunity provider.