Washington Volcano Country

A Tri-Mountain Panorama - White Pass Scenic Byway is Volcano Country

Welcome to the heart of volcano country.  Expansive scenic vistas, limitless outdoor adventure, and three of the Cascade’s most splendid mountain peaks.  Meet Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Adams – a trio of the nations’ most magnificent treasures cloaked in beauty and etched in history.  The White Pass Scenic Byway encompasses them all.  Come explore the byway and get acquainted with these majestic giants amongst Washington's most popular getaway attractions. 

To the north, visit Mount Rainier, the highest point in Washington State.  To the south, the jagged crater of Mount St. Helens reminds visitors of its massive explosion in 1980.  Further east, the graceful cone of snow covered Mount Adams watches over the arid steppe country of Eastern Washington.  With near limitless recreation possibilities and mind-blowing beauty, this is an experience of a lifetime.

Once near-perfect cone-shaped mountains all three, today each one has experienced eruptions leaving them with reminders of nature’s powerful forces.  Watch for these snow capped mountains as you tour the byway, or better yet, get up close and stand at the base of these mountains and get to know their unique personalities.

Glorious Mt. Rainier

Glorious Mt. Rainier

Mt. Rainier’s Best

Best Mountain Reflection:  Reflection Lakes
Best Wildflower Meadow:  Paradise & Spray Park
Best Old-Growth Forest:  Grove of the Patriarchs
Best Rainforest:  Carbon River Rainforest
Best Fall Color:  Between Chinook Pass and Sunrise
More Info:  Visit Rainier
View the Webcam

The crown jewel of Washington and the granddaddy of the Cascades.  At nearly three miles high, it towers higher than any other mountain in the state and holds the title as the second highest peak in the contiguous 48 states.  Since 1899, this natural wonder has been showcased in the 365-square-mile Mount Rainier National Park.  Mt. Rainier is surrounded by deep valleys, cascading waterfalls, dramatic wildflower meadows, awe-inspiring old growth forest and 26 glaciers. Whether photographing the meadows, climbing to the summit, trekking along the trails, or just admiring the view, over one million visitors come to the park each year to experience the magic on the mountain.

Click here for a video describing activities available at Mt. Rainier.

Mighty Mount St. Helens

Washington volcanoes

Mt. St. Helens’ Eruption Stats

Elevation Loss:  1,313 feet
Heat of Blast:  570 degrees Fahrenheit
Blow Down:  4 billion board feet of timber
Ash Fall:  540 million tons
Height of Ash Column:  12 miles
More Info:  Cowlitz County Tourism
View the Webcam 

May 18th, 1980 forever changed the landscape of this once near-perfect volcanic cone.  Spewing ash into the atmosphere that circled the globe, Mount St. Helens, remains the most dramatic example of active volcanic activity in the continental United States.  In a near-instant, 200 square miles of rich forestland was transformed into a gray, lifeless landscape.  Today the blast zone is a world-renowned area of scientific research into the regeneration of living systems following volcanic disturbance.  Witness nature’s awe-inspiring recovery process as wildlife reclaims its home.  World-class visitor centers skirt the mountain and recreational opportunities are plentiful throughout the region.  Discover nature’s raw power and a restoration project of immeasurable proportions.

Rugged Mount Adams

Rugged Mount Adams

Mt. Adams’ Quick Facts

Last Eruption:  About 550 BC
First Ascent:  1854 by A.G. Aiken
Designated Wilderness:  1964
Native American Name:  Pahto
When to Climb:  May through October
More Info:  Gifford Pinchot National Forest

 

For the more adventurous traveler, include a visit to 12,276 foot high snow capped Mount Adams – the least developed of the three volcanoes in the corridor.  Its distance from population centers and roads make this mountain a relatively isolated mountain.  With no visitor centers or paved access roads, Mount Adams Wilderness is a true backcountry experience and a classic Washington getaway.  Camping is popular from early July to late October or early November.  Venture out into remote forests offering stunning alpine lakes, plentiful wildlife, and opportunities for long and short hikes.  For many, this area is tops for a true wilderness experience.  If you’re looking to escape civilization, this is the place to do it.

 

America's Byway - National Scenic Byway Program