Mount St. Helens Climbing Permit

Gifford Pinchot National Forest

Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument is located on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Southwest Washington. Best known as the site of the historic 1980 volcanic eruption, the Monument offers a variety of recreation opportunities, including the chance to climb to the summit of the most active volcano in the Cascade Range.

Before May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens' summit altitude of 9,677 feet (2,950 meters) made it the fifth highest peak in Washington State. The conical snow covered mountain was often referred to as the Mount Fuji of America. The May 18, 1980 eruption transformed the mountain and surrounding landscape significantly. The volcano lost an estimated 3.4 billion cubic yards (0.63 cubic mile) of its cone (about 1,300 feet or 396 meters in height), leaving behind a horseshoe-shaped crater (open to the north), with the highest part of the crater rim on the southwestern side at 8,365 feet (2,550 meters) elevation. Today the summit of Mount St. Helens offers climbers a breathtaking view of neighboring cascade peaks, the crater formed by the 1980 eruption and surrounding areas. 

Mount St. Helens is a popular climb for both beginner and experienced mountaineers. Although strenuous, Mount St. Helens is considered a non-technical climb and is suitable for people in good physical condition who are comfortable scrambling on steep, rugged terrain. 

Notifications and Alerts

Permit & Season Information

Climbing permits are required year round on Mount St. Helens. A Climbing Permit allows an individual or group (max size limit of 12) to be in or upon the area defined as the Mount St. Helens Closure Area #2 (PDF) during the 24 hour period designated by the permit.

To reduce crowding and protect natural features, the number of climbers per day on Mount St. Helens is subject to a quota from April 1 to October 31.

A permit may be printed up to 14 days before your reservation date. Once your permit has been printed, you cannot make changes.

Outside the quota season permits are free of charge and self-issued at the trailhead.

Need to Know

Conditions of Use:  

Rules and Regulations:  

Remember: 

Risk and Responsibility: 

Mount St. Helens is a remote mountain environment with potential hazards and risks. Being prepared and knowing your skill level and ability and the skill level and abilities of all of your group members is imperative. Use extreme caution when climbing or descending steep snow slopes. Do Not Rely On Your Cell Phone In A Climbing Emergency! Climbers are cautioned not to substitute a cell phone for adequate preparedness, such as carrying the Ten Essentials, and signing in and out at the Climber Register before and after your climb. 

Volcanic Hazards:  

Did you know Mount St. Helens is the most active volcano in the Cascade Mountain Range?  It is important for all potential climbers to understand they may be exposing themselves to volcanic hazards which cannot be forecast, cannot be controlled, and may occur at any time without warning.  Learn more at the Cascades Volcano Observatory.  

If you are unable to use your permit, please take the time to cancel your reservation online at Recreation.gov (877-444-6777), so that another group will have a chance to book a permit.

Fee Policy

Recreation Fee: $15/climber

During the quota season, April 1-October 31, the recreation fee for a Mount St. Helens climbing permit is $15.00/climber/day. The recreation fee finances on-the-ground administration and management of the Mount St. Helens climbing program.

Reservation Fee: There is a non-refundable $6.00 reservation fee for every permit transaction.

A valid Federal Recreation Pass is required at Climbers Bivouac TH and is available for purchase online or on site via cash or check. A Washington State Sno-park pass is required at Marble Mountain Sno-Park December 1 - March 30 and is available online or through local vendors.

Cancellation Policy

Cancellation Policy:  

Receive a refund (not including the $6.00 reservation fee) if the permit is cancelled at least 7 days prior to the permit date. No refunds for cancellations 6 days or less. 

No refunds for no shows or for adverse weather conditions. 

A full refund (including the $6 reservation fee) only given if the climbing route is closed by the U.S. Forest Service.

Change Policy:   

Group Size: Changes in group size permitted up to 7 days before the climb. Refunds for a decrease in group size are only available if changes are made at least 7 days in advance of the climb date. Increases in group size are dependent upon quota availability.

Group member name: The names of group members, not permit holder, may be changed up to seven days before the permit date. Permit holder name cannot be changed.

Permit Date(s): Once a permit reservation is made, no changes may be made to the permit date. To acquire a new date, you must cancel the permit and purchase a new one, if available.  

Contact Information

Mailing Address

42218 NE Yale Bridge Road Amboy WA 98601

Phone Number

(360) 449-7800

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