Big bang

Mount St. Helens commemorates an explosive 25th anniversary

Bonnie Henderson

That white plume issuing from Mount St. Helens's crater: Is it a sign of surrender? Hardly. It was 25 years ago the morning of May 18 that the once-dormant volcano erupted, radically altering the surrounding landscape and its own profile. Since September 2004, when a swarm of shallow earthquakes began shaking the mountain again, the crater has been steaming regularly, some days more than others, and even throwing clouds of ash, to the awe of volcano watchers at the 110,000-acre Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.

Info: Take in an aerial view on a plane tour from Seattle with Vashon Island Air ($546 for up to three passengers; www.island-air.com or 877/475-3247), or stop at Hoffstadt Bluffs Visitor Center, at milepost 27 on State 504, any day from late May through October to join a 30-minute helicopter tour ($114 per person, weather and space permitting; www.mountsthelens-awesome.com/hoffstadt.htm or 360/274-7750). Take part in various Mount St. Helens-themed lectures and open houses throughout the Northwest; for schedules, visit www.fs.fed.us/gpnf and click on the anniversary icon.