Volcanoes in Washington are spread across the state, from Bellingham in the north to Vancouver in the south. The Cascade Mountain range, which runs for 1,200 miles, includes mountains in three states and one Canadian province.
Despite the threat that these volcanoes pose, they are popular recreation areas for visitors throughout the North West and around the world.
Washington Volcanoes Map
Here is a map of the five major volcanoes in Washington. Explore each on these below.
Active Volcanoes in Washington - High to Very High Threat
Most volcanic eruptions are not as they appear in films; instead, if one of these volcanoes erupted, residents of the Pacific Northwest could expect melted snow and ice, resulting in dangerous mudflows and debris, molten rock (lava) running downhill, and a smoke cloud.
Mount Rainier (Tahoma)
Threat Level: Very High
Location: Pierce and Lewis Counties
Mount Rainier is, by far, the tallest mountain in the Pacific Northwest. It's located in the middle of Washington State and is admired by mountaineers around the country as an important and worthy climbing goal.
The biggest threat from Rainier comes from the fact that it is covered with an immense amount of ice that, if the volcano erupted, would quickly melt, causing huge lahars.
Mount Baker (Koma Kulshan)
Height: 10,786 ft
Location: Whatcom County, Washington
The last time that Mount Baker erupted was in 1843. It resulted in the destruction of miles of forest and the deaths of fish surrounding rivers.
If Mount Baker were to erupt, it could provide lava flows, pumice, and lahars (or flows of mud and debris created from melting ice and snow). Right now, the mountain shows no signs of renewed activity. Throughout history, it has erupted 13 times.
Like most volcanoes in Washington, Mount Baker's most important threat during and after an eruption is the creation of lahars.
Glacier Peak (Dakobed)
Threat Level: Very High
Location: Snohomish County
Glacier Peak is sometimes overlooked when it comes to prominent mountains in Washington (because it's not visible from most popular centers). But it's only two hundred or so feet shorter than Mount Baker, and its last eruption was 300 years ago. Although its located in a wilderness area, if Mount Baker erupted, it would impact cities like Darrington, Burlington, Sedro Woolley, and Concrete (among others). It's also like that wind, after the volcanic eruption, would carry ash towards Winthrop and the Methow River.
It's believed to have erupted numerous times within recorded history and has the potential to be 5x stronger than the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980. Settlers in the 1850s learned that Glacier Peak was a volcano when they spoke to Native Americans about the mountains in the area.
Mount St. Helens (Lowit)
Location: Skamania County
The last eruption of Mount St. Helens was 40+ years ago, on March 27th, 1980. It resulted in the deaths of 57 people and the destruction of nearly 150 miles of forestland. It's still considered to be an incredibly dangerous mountain and the most active volcano in Washington and the Cascade Range.
Over the past 500 years, there have been four recorded eruptions that have posed a serious danger to the PNW region and around the country. When the volcano erupts, it produces lava flows, pyroclastic flows, and very large lahars.
Mount Adams (Pahto)
Threat Level: High
Location: Gifford Pinchot National Forest
Mount Adams is one of the most dangerous and largest volcanoes in Washington state and in the Cascade Range. Its last eruption was 3,800 years ago, and scientists have suggested that in the future, an eruption could produce up to 5 million m3 of debris.
The mountain is very close to large population centers along the Washington/Oregon border and would pose an issue for cities much farther away.
Extinct Volcanoes in Washington
There are several other extinct volcanoes in Washington that are worth mentioning. They include
Black Buttes (Sawtooth Rocks)
Black Buttes is an extinct stratovolcano in Washington. It rises above the Deming Glacier and is part of the Mount Baker glacier system.
A very small volcano in southern Washington in Skamania County. It's only 4,311' in height but is known to have created two lava fields.
Goat Rocks is an extinct stratovolcano in southern Washington that's in between Adams and Rainier. It was active over 3 million years ago and stopped erupting around 1/2 a million years ago.
Signal Peak is just over 5,000' in height and is part of the Pine Valley Mountains, and is one of many Washington County Highpoints. It is home to one of only a few remaining fire lookouts in the state.
How many volcanoes are in Washington state?
There are five major active volcanoes in Washington state. Each of these is regarded as a high to very high threat and includes Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, Glacier Peak, Mount St. Helens, and Mount Baker.
What is the most dangerous volcano in Washington state?
The most dangerous volcano in Washington state is Mount Rainier. It's considered a very high threat, and if it erupted, its immense size and a large amount of glaciation would pose a significant risk.
What volcano erupted in Washington in 1980?
In 1980, Mount St. Helens erupted in south-central Washington. The eruption resulted in the deaths of over 50 people and the destruction of hundreds of miles of forest (due to the large lahars).
What type of volcano is Mount St. Helens?
Mount St. Helens is an active stratovolcano that famously erupted in 1980.
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