THE BEST WAY

THE BEST WAY

From Los Angeles, nonstop service to Portland (Ore.) International Airport is available on United and Alaska; direct service (stop, no change of plane) is available on Southwest; and connecting service (change of planes) is offered on United and Southwest. Restricted round-trip fares begin at $238.

From the Portland airport, take Interstate 205 north for about 12 miles to Interstate 5 and continue north 13 miles. Take Washington Highway 503 east about 35 miles, past the town of Cougar, to U.S. Forest Service Road 83. Keep left and look for signs to the Climbers' Bivouac.

GETTING A PERMIT

Climbing permits (between Nov. 1 and March 31) are available at the Lone Fir Resort (see below) in Cougar, Wash. Between April 1 and May 14, there is no limit to the permits, but a $22 fee is charged. During hiking season, May 15 to Oct. 31, there is a limit of 100 permits and a fee of $22 each. All permits are sold online at www.mshinstitute.org. Take your online confirmation to the Lone Fir Resort to pick up your permit.

GUIDES

The nonprofit Mount St. Helens Institute offers several guided hikes, known as field seminars. The $150-a-person fee includes the cost of a permit and the guided climb. For details, go to www.mshinstitute.org.

WHERE TO STAY

— Lone Fir Resort, 16806 Lewis River Road, Cougar; (360) 238-5210, www.lonefirresort.com. Doubles from $55.

— Monfort's Bed and Breakfast, 132 Cougar Loop Road, Cougar; (360) 238-5229. Doubles from $60.

TO LEARN MORE

Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument Headquarters, 42218 N.E. Yale Bridge Road, Amboy, WA 98601; (360) 449-7800, www.fs.fed.us/gpnf/mshnvm/index.shtml.