Base Camp Mount St. Helens 

Click on a date below to register:

Base Camp | July 14-16, 2023

Base Camp | July 28-30, 2023

Base Camp | September 1-3, 2023


Fees & Sliding Scale (NEW IN 2023)

Mount St. Helens Institute fees cover the cost of operating our programs including paying our staff livable wages, purchasing locally where possible and taking measures to practice environmental and fiscal responsibility.

To increase access to some of our programs, we are piloting a sliding scale to ensure that all people can connect with and benefit from an experience in the outdoors. We believe that everyone can learn from and be inspired by the volcano in our backyard, and that our public lands and nature belong to everyone.

When you register, you will be asked to choose a dollar amount (or discount amount ) that works for you and your family. We welcome everyone to pay at the level that is feasible for you.

Sliding Scale Recommendations

Slide up if you have discretionary income for expenses like travel, dining out, entertainment, etc.

Slide down if your financial circumstances would prevent you from participating.

Tent site and one attendee true cost: $260.00
Includes tent site reservation, two dinners, two breakfasts, one lunch, and event activities.
RV site and one attendee true cost: $260.00
Includes RV site reservation, two dinners, two breakfasts, one lunch, and event activities.
Additional attendee at any site true cost: $160.00
Includes two dinners, two breakfasts, one lunch, and event activities.

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 it's for

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

What's included

  • Designated 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 you 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 
  • Proof of COVID19 vaccination or negative test results


Who can attend? 

  • 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. 

What's required? 

  • Are there COVID requirements? Yes, you will be asked to show your vaccination card or a negative test. See our program policies

Dietary Accommodations?

  • 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 

Tent & RV Sites?

  • 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'. You will receive a confirmation email after registration that includes a link to select your RV or tent site. 
  • 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.  You will receive a confirmation email after registration that includes a link to select your RV or tent site. 

Activities for Base Camp?

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


  • 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. 

Still have questions:

Email or call (360) 449-7883. 

Additional Information

Program Policies
Join our Email List for MSHI News & Updates
Date Sold Out? Join the Waitlist

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.