Mount Hood gets all the glory when it comes to the PDX skyline, but Mount Saint Helens, just about a two-hour drive away, is a huge adventure in its own right, completely unlike any other destination thanks to its 1980 eruption and the aftermath.

If you haven’t taken your kids to Ape Caves yet, this is your chance — the trail features the longest lava tube in the continental United States and even on the hottest days, it’s a steady 42 degrees down there. (Pro tip: Bring headlamps if you’ve got them!)

Older kids will dig the live seismographs and geology exhibits at the Johnson Ridge Observatory, while little ones will have fun with the National Parks’ Junior Ranger program scavenger hunts and puzzles. Other hiking options include the Trail of Two Forests, which has giant holes in the ground where trees once stood, big enough for the world’s best ever game of hide and seek, the 2.5-mile Hummocks Trail and the Volcano View Trail, which is stroller-friendly and offers a peek at the mountain.

Stay at Eco Park Resort just outside the national park, where you can rent a cabin for four people for $150 a night or pitch a tent for $25. Pro tip: Book one of the family-friendly horseback riding tours to get a birds-eye view tour of how Mount Saint Helens is returning to life, nearly 40 years after the eruption. For dinner, try the beefy “logger stew” in a bread bowl at the resort’s Backwoods Cafe. (Don’t worry vegetarians/vegans/the gluten-free, there are choices for you on the menu, too.) 

Gear Guide
All gear available at Next Adventure or online at nextadventure.net. Click on the image for more details.

Headlamp: Perfect for any adventure where daylight is in short supply.

Woolen socks: Wool socks keep feet insulated from cold and wet conditions.

Base layers: Polyester base layers wick moisture and keep kids dry.

Convertible trekking pants: Prepare kiddos for any weather with these lightweight pants that zip off into shorts.

Lantern: Long-lasting LED will light up any night under the stars.

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