UW Combined Fund Drive

May 18, 2021

41 Years After Mount St. Helens’ Eruption

Richard Bowen/Oregon Live

41 years ago, Mount St. Helens erupted cataclysmically. For those old enough to remember, May 18 quickly became, literally, a very dark day in the Pacific Northwest.

The eruption, triggered by a magnitude 5.1 earthquake, prompted the largest landslide and became the deadliest and most destructive volcanic eruption in U.S. history.

The impacts of the blast – which killed 57 people and thousands of animals – damaged approximately 230 square miles around the volcano, and 1,314 feet of the mountain were lost. The blast forever changed the landscape in the area, and will always be a reminder of the importance of disaster preparedness.

Related: Entire U.S. West Coast now has access to ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system

Today, we can witness the incredible regrowth of the Mount St. Helens area. Part of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Southwest Washington, the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument is open year-round and offers a variety of recreational and educational activities.

In addition to Mount St. Helens, Washington is home to four other active volcanoes: Mount Baker, Glacier Peak, Mount Rainier, and Mount Adams. These volcanoes are scattered across the Cascade Mountain range, which is also home to incredible views, hikes, climbing routes, animals, berries, and so much more.

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee recently proclaimed May 2021 as Volcano Awareness Month in an effort to educate people about volcanic hazards. Learn more about safely visiting Mt. St. Helens and other active volcanos from Washington State Parks.

While you’re planning your volcano and mountain escape, consider using the hike finder tool from Washington Trails Association to find a hike that suits you. Check the National Park Service or Washington State Parks for up to date information on weather, Covid safety protocols, and recommendations. Lastly, catch up on some of our recent posts on getting outside like Getting your Vitamin N (for Nature) Responsibly.

Support Outdoor Recreation and Research

The UWCFD is proud to partner with nonprofit organizations that protect our natural resources and raise awareness about disaster preparedness. Consider setting up payroll deduction or making a one-time gift through your MyCFD account to the following organizations:

National Park Foundation (charity code 0329915) – National parks are an awe-inspiring collection of the greatest historic and natural resources in the world. Help protect, enhance, and promote these majestic places. This charity is a part of America’s Best Charities

National Parks Conservation Association (charity code 0314998) – Preserves national parks from the Grand Canyon to Gettysburg protects endangered wildlife and cultural sites promotes new parks defends against pollution, inappropriate development and overcrowding. This charity is a part of EarthShare Washington

Washington’s National Park Fund (charity code 0340920) – The Fund raises significant private support to deepen the public’s love for, understanding of, and experiences in Mount Rainier, North Cascades and Olympic National Parks, so they remain vital to our lives and the health of our planet forever.

Washington Trails Association (charity code 0315053) – Protects trails, wilderness the environment leads youth and adult volunteers in maintaining hiking trails in Cascade and Olympic mountains promotes hiking for health and recreation. This charity is a part of EarthShare Washington

The Mountaineers (charity code 1481321) – The Mountaineers is a nonprofit outdoor education, recreation and conservation organization whose mission is to enrich the community by helping people explore, conserve, learn about and enjoy the lands and waters of the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

Tacoma Mountain Rescue (charity code 1482616) – TMR are the 1st call and last resort for rescue in Washington’s mountains. Our unpaid team of dedicated volunteers leave work and family to save lives 24/7/365. We can only continue to do this with your donations for equipment, training and supplies.