The Science and Learning Center at Coldwater (SLC) is a hands-on education center located seven miles from the crater of Mount St. Helens and operated by the Mount St. Helens Institute (MSHI). The SLC offers spectacular views and immersion into the volcanic landscape and world just outside in the heart of the blast zone.
From October 30, 2023, through mid-May 2024, the SLC will be open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is recommended that you call ahead during inclement weather to check on road conditions as winter snow can occasionally block access to the Center (360) 274-2131.
In order to support our partners at the USFS Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument and visitors to the area, MSHI shared use of the SLC last summer with the US Forest Service after a landslide occurred in May 2023 on WA State Route 504. Operations at MSHI and the Science and Learning Center have not been impacted by the landslide. The landslide poses NO DANGER to our operations or facilities. The roads to the Science and Learning Center, and as far as Coldwater Lake and the Hummocks trailhead, remain open and clear. Visit our Landslide Updates and Information page to learn more.
The Science and Learning Center and Coldwater Campground is located at milepost 43 on State Highway 504, approximately 10 miles west of Johnston Ridge Observatory. Overnight rentals at the Science & Learning Center and Coldwater Campground are the closest place available to camp in the 1980 eruption blast zone. There is so much to explore and learn in the landscape around Mount St. Helens. Explore our interactive Google map of Attractions & Amenities around Mount St. Helens to plan your trip.
Are you an education or school group? Consider our Volcano Outdoor School program which may include lodging and meals at the Science & Learning Center.
The Science & Learning Center has multiple conference rooms available for day use, numerous educational opportunities and programs as well as overnight accommodations. All of the spaces pictured below are available to groups renting the Science and Learning Center, including access to kitchen appliances and other reusable foodservice supplies.
The Mount St. Helens Science and Learning Center is located on a ridge less than 10 miles from the crater of the volcano with fantastic views and access to a network of hiking trails in the area. The facility is behind a locked gate and is not open to the public.
The main entry and pavilion space contains floor to ceiling glass walls and on clear days offers spectacular views of Mount St. Helens. This provides a one-of-a-kind backdrop for gathering and special events.
Atrium space with floor to ceiling glass windows in view of Mount St. Helens provides a one-of-a-king backdrop for gatherings and special events. Indoor gathering space for up to 100 people for lectures, music, and other events.
Indoor dining area with fantastic full length floor to ceiling window view of Mount St. Helens.
Seating capacity for up to 60 people indoors. Additional tables and chairs are available (~8 folding tables, ~ 50 chairs).
Buffet line for meal service including warming trays, warming oven, sneeze guards, and buffet cooler.
Full commercial kitchen with service utensils, plates, bowls and cups for service of up to 100 people available.
Southeast facing deck seating offers fantastic views of Mount St. Helens and Coldwater Lake.
Seating capacity for up to 40 people indoors. Additional tables and chairs are available (~8 folding tables, ~ 50 chairs).
Full commercial kitchen including: 6 burner stove top, 2 ovens including one convection oven, a walk in refrigerator, large coffee maker, commercial dishwasher, stainless steel counters, 3 basin sinks, griddle, and food warmer. Kitchen rentals include full access to appliances and kitchen tools.
Stainless steel counters and prep sink and 3 basin sink are located in the rear of the kitchen. Full commercial dishwasher including dish racks for plates, tools, cups and more. Kitchen rentals include access to all appliances and kitchen tools.
Indoor overnight accommodations include 26 beds (including 16 bunk beds) + 15 cots in two separate sleeping areas.
Sleeping gear may be set up in other areas in the building and on the deck upon request.
Conference room with 75% window lined walls offering fantastic views of Mount St. Helens. Contains modular chairs & tables, seating for 40, and a built in projector screen. MSHI staff can provide a projector upon request and associated cables (including USBC>HDMI).
Large conference room with 75% window lined walls offering fantastic views of Mount St. Helens. During the outdoor school season, this room is converted to a sleeping area with 11 beds and ~15 modular cots and air mattresses that can be arranged based on group needs.
Built-in projector and foldable chairs and tables of different sizes makes a versatile space used for trainings, meetings and other gatherings. Tables and folding chairs for seating of up to 60 people are available for groups to use.
Theater contains 24 seats, a built-in projector and hookup to DVD player and is ideal for lectures or for showing films. The 20 minute long visitors center film “This Place in Time” about the May 18, 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens is available for groups as well as a collection of DVDs including Planet Earth.
Large south facing wrap-around deck around the entire building provides amazing views of Coldwater Lake, Mount St. Helens, and the Toutle Valley.
Deck includes tables and chairs that seat ~ 40 people and interpretive panels that speak about how the eruption shaped the landscape.
A 1/4 mile paved loop ADA accessible trail leads from the parking lot with views of Mount St. Helens and the Toutle Valley.
From the Coldwater campground area, the Elk Bench trail leads to Coldwater Lake and connects with trails to Coldwater Peak and Johnston Ridge.
|“Amazing views! Awesome staff! Fantastic campground and kitchen!” “Incredibly impressed! Beautiful facility, amazing staff and breathtaking scenery. Thanks!” - 2022 participant||"The staff and rangers were so very helpful and informative! Facility was clean and comfortable. The views amazing at sunset and sunrise!” - 2022 participant||“Thank you so much for everything. The staff was very inviting and I loved that we were made to feel at home. We appreciate it and cannot wait to take the family back to show them what I have learned and seen. A special thank you to the staff who were amazing, easy to talk to and love the explanations of everything especially during the interactive talks.” - 2022 participant|
Registration for renting the Science & Learning Center and/or Coldwater Campground is open! Interested parties need to complete our non-binding INQUIRY FORM. After you complete the form, Mount St. Helens Institute staff will reach out to you with more information and to answer questions.
You can review our program policies HERE. All groups are responsible for cleaning up after themselves. (cleaning supplies will be provided.)
If you have any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org