If you are visiting Mount St. Helens National Monument and want to see the immense devastation caused by the 1980 eruption without climbing to the top of the crater, the Windy Ridge Viewpoint and interpretive site is one of your best options. From the ridge adjacent to Mount St. Helens and Spirit Lake you are able to see the blown-out northeast side of the volcano, the mud-filled rivers running through the valley, and the hundreds of thousands of blown-over trees that still litter the landscape and fill much of Spirit Lake.
The Windy Ridge Viewpoint makes for a good family destination as there are trails, lakes and wildlife in addition to interpretive signage that tells the story of the eruption. From the main parking lot for the viewpoint there is a maintained, 368-step sand ladder to climb that provides for exceptional views of the volcanic crater and Spirit Lake together.
The access roads to this destination are closed in the winter. Check with the Forest Service on the road conditions before driving to this area outside of summer months.