“Wonderful! This is an experience the children will remember their ENTIRE lives. Lots of cool activities, beautiful environment, very nice facilities. Such a great time/place!” “The Volcano Outdoor School educators were phenomenal. They were energetic, patient, kind, and engaging. Thank you!” “Very hands-on, science based experience with a big dose of outdoor and team-based learning. Tons of fun. Great teachers. Great mix of theory and practice.”



Volcano Outdoor School Overnight Programs provide a unique, interdisciplinary, fully-immersive experience that supports Next Generation Science Standards and Washington State Social Emotional Learning Standards.

Throughout the program, students explore the world around them, make field observations, working in a team, sharing and discussing ideas, and reflecting on the environment and themselves. 

In our ecology programs, students investigate themes of disturbance, succession and renewal.  In our geology programs, students investigate themes of scale, human connections to geologic processes, and interactions between earth systems.  

Read about our educational goals for our youth education programs. All program participants are expected to follow our behavioral expectations for ALL field trips.


Volcano Outdoor School overnight programs are a fantastic way for students to immerse in the landscape.  Our education team chooses activities based on the stated learning goals of the group, age of students, group size, season, weather and staff availability. Specific activities may be available upon request.

  • Maximum group size: 30 youth, 6 adults
  • Student:Educator ratio: 15 students per 1 MSHI educator 
  • Required chaperone ratio: 1:8 chaperones to students
  • Duration: 1-night or 2-night
  • Times: 2:00 PM arrival day - 12:00 PM departure day.
  • Cost: 


Volcano Outdoor School day programs are a fantastic way to make the most out of a day experience with hands-on, experiential learning!  Our education team chooses activities based on the stated learning goals of the group, age of students, group size, season, weather and staff availability. Specific activities may be available upon request.

  • Maximum group size: Dependent on activities and staff availability 
  • Student:educator ratio: Dependent on group size, activities and staff availability 
  • Required chaperone ratio: 1:8 chaperones to students
  • Minimum time requirement: 2 hours
  • Times available: 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
  • Cost: 
    • $13/person/hour (Minimum: $500/day)
    • 1 teacher/group leader FREE
    • Financial assistance may be available for low-income groups


Most Volcano Outdoor School programs are based at the Mount St. Helens Science and Learning Center, 19000 Spirit Lake Highway. Our facility is located in the heart of the 1980 eruption blast zone. 

In this place where the 1980 eruption scraped and scoured the land, students investigate the past and present geology and ecology at work.  Field trips may include at other locations such as Ape Cave, Trail of Two Forests, Mount St. Helens Visitor Center at Seaquest State Park, and more. These locations are available on a case-by-case basis. 

“A must do for Washington kids. The history, the science, the event are all so relevant.” “Profound. unimaginably successful. A paradigm shifter for the classroom." “I heard voices that tend to be quiet in the classroom.”


1. Consider your date availability. Our form asks you to submit 3 possible date options. Our calendar of date availability is not currently available. Please note that available dates are subject to group size, staff availability, and facility availability.  

2. Read our program policiesNote that groups are required to provide chaperone support at a ratio of 1:5 chaperones per students for overnight trips and 1:8 chaperones per students for day trips.

3. Read our Frequently Asked Questions for Volcano Outdoor School.  Email learn@mshinstitute.org with any other questions or for further information.

4. Complete the non-binding INQUIRY FORM and FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE FORM (if applicable)

  • Include your top three dates and share any information about your flexibility, the limits of your flexibility (ex: any Thursday in June), and dates you cannot come.
  • For 2023 programs, priority dates will be given to schools/groups that complete the Inquiry Form by October 31. Schools may inquire at any time after October 31 and inquiries will be evaluated at the end of each month. 
    • We will do our best to accommodate your dates based on our availability, previous Volcano Outdoor School participation, and our priorities based on grant funding. 
    • We will notify you of the proposed date(s) and any financial support in mid November. If the proposed date(s) are not acceptable, we will work with you to find a suitable date. 
    • Once we have agreed on a date, we will send you a Program Agreement for you to sign and return to us. 

Other ways to visit Mount St. Helens! 

There are many options for visiting Mount St. Helens! 

  • School groups can visit the Science & Learning Center Coldwater Ridge Visitors Center which is open 10AM - 4PM 7 days a week from June - November and on weekends November - June. Please contact the U.S. Forest Service staff with questions.

  • Ape Cave on the south side of Mount St. Helens is open for school groups to visit between June - October. This site is managed by the U.S. Forest Service; please contact the U.S. Forest Service staff with questions. 

  • The Mount St. Helens Visitors Center at Seaquest State Park is located just 5 miles from the I5 corridor and is a fantastic place to visit as part of your trip to Mount St. Helens. This visitors center is open for school groups and is a great place to stretch your legs, use the restroom and learn more about the volcano with the interpretive exhibits, ADA accessible boardwalk trail and free curriculum provided by State Parks staff to school groups.

    Teachers can register online through the U.S. Forest Service (teachers corner link) by selecting VC on the drop-down menu. You can also contact State Park staff directly via phone or email at 360-274-0962 or by emailing Silver.Lake@parks.wa.gov. Feel free to visit our website to check out printable resources and our school group registration form at Mount St. Helens Visitor Center | Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission. Our staff are happy to help plan your trip and answer any questions you may have.


US Forest Service, WA Recreation & Conservation Office No Child Left Inside, WA State Parks, Honorable Frank L and Arlene G Price Foundation, Autzen Foundation, Outdoor Schools WA, Chevron, Goodfellow Bros., Cowlitz Indian Tribe, and BNSF Railway Foundation.



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Mount St. Helens Institute operates under a special use permit from the US Forest Service, WA State Parks 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.