Reviews & Customer Testimonials
The photo to the right shows the mudflow from a viewpoint on one of the horse tours that Mark Smith leads.
Of course, you could walk around be yourself and find stuff, but how cool is it to have a guide whose family has been entrenched in the valley since well before the Mountain blew?
Mark has an insider's viewpoint that very few folks have; his family owned the Spirit Lake Lodge, which was across the lake from Harry Truman and the infamous Mount St. Helens Lodge at Spirit Lake. Now he and his wife Dawn own and operate the 90-acre Eco Park Resort. They both can tell stories you won't hear anywhere else.
Our Friends Vickie and John said that they had never been there and how cool would it be to do a horse back trip down there for a few days vacation. We searched the internet and found Eco-Park Resort. And I must say that I’m glad that we did.
On The last weekend in April, We had another Field Trial in Castle Rock. We made it our “mission” to go and check this place out. We drove up there on a Saturday and much to our dismay; the gate had a sign hung on it that said “Closed”. I got out of the truck anyway because, I wanted to see the horses and there was supposed to be a restaurant that I read good things about on the internet.
A Man named Mark came up from the corrals below on a John Deere Gator and introduced himself as the owner. He informed us the they weren’t opened yet but, he’d be happy to give us a tour of the resort. Eco-Park resort is one of the last privately owned parcels of land before you hit the Blast zone of Mount Saint Helens. The resort is definitely a family run operation. And I’m here to tell you that you’re going to enjoy your hosts! (Read the rest of the story here.)
"It is beautifully maintained with plenty of wildlife. Their restaurant had the nicest interior and ambiance of all of the places we ate at in Castle Rock. The cafe is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and the food is good. Plus, there's entertainment. When we were there, they had bluegrass music.
"Dawn and Mark are sweet people who really seem to love what they do. We went on the four-hour horse tour with Mark and saw some sites (mudflows on the Toutle, acres of dead, standing dead forest) hat we wouldn't have seen up close anywhere else. He also provides a local perspective on explosion and rebuilding process that you don't get from the visitor centers.
"If you're there to see the volcano and appreciate what nature has to offer, this park is a compliment the experience."
The Oregonian (May 15, 2005): There must be a better way to visit the volcano than on an exhausting 225-mile day trip from Portland. Thankfully, there is: It's called Eco Park Resort.
VACATION OFFERS BREATH OF FRESH AIR -- LITERALLY
I found the perfect trip for the boys and me. No trains or planes to catch, no televisions, phones, computers. And if the boys got on my nerves, no witnesses."
I am a high school geology teacher in Oak Park, IL. For the past 13 years I have offered a course in the summer for students wishing to learn about the geology of Washington State, and the ways in which that geology has helped shape the biological and cultural evolution.
The students are always inspired by the study they have conducted around Mt. St. Helens. It is a rare opportunity indeed to see an ecosystem rebuild itself from scratch. Every year I am amazed at the changes that have occurred since the last visit.
The students are abuzz from the time we arrive until days after our departure, and the climb to the summit remains locked in their memory forever.
It has been a real treat to stay with the Smith Family at the Eco Park in Toutle. They are such exceptional hosts. Both Mark and Dawn have gone above and beyond to make the students comfortable and provide an enriched learning environment. Every meal becomes a lesson. Every campfire brings stories of life in the area.
The park is so close to the Monument, and there are so many opportunities for exploration that few may be aware of if they do not leave the highway. The highlight of my years in Washington was the time spent at the Tent and Breakfast in the midst of the Blast Zone. I have never felt so small and insignificant, yet in complete and utter awe of my environment. As the students put it, "It's awesome!"
There is no place on Earth like Mt. St. Helens, and no better way to spend the time there than with the Smith Family.
Mark Woods, science teacher
Oak Park and River Forest High School
Oak Park, Illinois
Hello Mark and Dawn, We just want you know how very much we appreciated our recent stay at your Eco Park Resort. The vast and scenic refuge and vistas that surround Mt St Helens is a wonder; one we truly enjoy and one of our most favorite places to visit. To compliment all that scenery and serenity, you are both to be recognized for the vital role you play in making the casual tourist seem more like family then visitor. Your warm, friendly, caring, and accommodating ways are certainly refreshing compared to most of what is seen in today's commercial world of hotels, motels, and B and Bs.
Much is to be enjoyed there at Eco Park, from the cleanly cabin in the woods, to the rivers,streams, ponds, wildlife, and piece and quiet that one seeks as they abandon the hustle and bustle of city life. The quality, quantity, and presentation of the meals you prepare at the "Backwoods Cafe" are top notch and certainly far and above anything we would have expected to find in such remote surroundings.
We look forward to seeing you both again soon to continue the Eco Park Resort experience and another time to create yet more memories.
Chuck and Judy Volanti
We have been camping at Eco Park for about 2 years now. Winter or summer, whatever the season we have always enjoyed your hospitality, it is like spending the weekend with family with out the bad stuff. Whether we are hiking the beautiful trails or going on horseback, we and our friends never cease to be thrilled with the beauty of your surroundings and wild life. One of the highlights we will always enjoy remembering is the helicopter-ride up the mud flow.
Our hats are off to the two of you for providing a wonderful refuge where we can get away and relax.
Well be seeing you guys soon.
Beryl & Balinda Hood
Our Eco Park Lodging Experience
My friend, Cary, and I have enjoyed annual week stays at Eco Park for the past nine years. Eco Park is our staging area for fishing, sightseeing (the Park is just outside Mt. St. Helens' "blast zone"), hiking, and wildlife viewing.
Eco Park is our safe and comfortable way to have an “Off grid experience.” From our arrival to departure the owners, Mark and Dawn Smith, make sure our stay is enjoyable, memorable, and just plain fun.
We have found if we are out for a day trip up the mountain, fishing or planning our overnight stays, Eco Park’s “Backwoods Café” offers us a hearty breakfast, a nourishing lunch and a fulfilling dinner. The Café is good choice for any hungry traveler or outdoor enthusiast.
Have you ever been up close to a herd of Elk and seen a bull Elk up close, or heard the elks bugling calls in the woods - we have and you will too - just spend some time in the Park. We both fully recommend Eco Park Resort for that personal Pacific Northwest experience.
Mac Sanborn (Santa Barbara, CA) and
Cary diRaimondo, (Scappoose, OR)
In October 2008 I was a tour guide for 2 bus tours of the Mt. St. Helens Area. My previous experience was that I would have difficulty finding a Quality sack lunch. Through friends I was led to Dawn Smith of Eco Park Resort and for a very reasonable price she prepared Box Lunches for 2 Buses of approximately 50 people each.
Previous experience has shown that I might get 1 or 2 comments about the food, but over 1/3 of the
People on the bus told me how great the lunch was.
I would highly recommend Eco Park Resort for either Box Lunches for Tours or a hot Meal lunch.
Just a note of thank you!
The one brief night we spent with you guys was just great! We will be back. Thank you for all the laughs and fun!
Thank you Dawn for your wit. You have a keen mind and a wicked since of humor. Look forward to gabbing with you again.
Otis, Nanci and Tahir Finley
Dear Dawn and Mark
You and your Eco Park Resort made our Mount St. Helens – field work to one of our most memorable holidays. We felt at home from the first day on and enjoyed your marvelous kitchen, the ice cream dibbs and Mark’s volcano stories.
We admired your relentless commitment to the Mt. St. Helens area – always keeping in mind that Mt. St. Helens should not become an ivory tower for scientist only – but to let people feel and experience the power of nature. All the best to 007 as well. We are looking forward to see you soon again – but this time with our complete family.
The Huwyler-Family from Walchwil, Switzerland: Doris, Debbie + Karl
After a day of sightseeing at Mt. St. Helens, we stumbled into the Eco Park Resort, with the intention of having a late lunch only, and wound up staying 5 nights! It was a no brainer; After meeting Dawn and Mark, (the purveyors of Eco Park Resort), after enjoying the scrum shish lunch and sitting taking in the beautiful scenery from the main lodge, we new we just had to stay. Dawn and Mark made us feel at home right from the minute we entered to the moment we left. We knew we had made new friends with whom we hope to get to visit with again. From every meal to the most cozy of accommodations(we stayed in one of the cabins), to clean bathrooms with showers (with heat included!), to the glorious grounds Eco Park Resort is a definite must see and stay when visiting Mount St. Helens. Eco Park has lodging, horseback riding, hiking, and even helicopter rides. At night, they light a campfire for all to enjoy. It is a great place for families and would make a wonderful place for a wedding OR family reunion. The rates are so very reasonable too. If you do go, please observe the park speed limit when driving about, there are horses, children and others walking about..what's your hurry anyway, aren't you supposed to be on vacation???
Dierdre and Richard Muller, Plainfield, NH.
Eco Park is an Great place to stay. I have used them several times for base camp duriing hunting season .
I stayed in a cabin one year, in the yurt another year, and this year me and my buddy stayed in an RV.
We have had awesome meals at the cafe, the park is nice and quiet and Dawn & Mark make you feel like family every time you come back.
I would recommend Eco Park for anyone to come and enjoy, hunting season or to bring the family. Its a wonderful place for every season.
Eco Park Resort is one of the most amazing places I have ever visited. I have traveled the world and find myself returning to Eco Park Resort at Mt. St. Helens most often. Whether staying in a cozy cabin, hiking around the park, horseback riding the trails in the rain, watching elk walk through the park in the early morning or enjoying a delicious meal in the Backwoods Cafe, Eco Park has so much to offer. It is my personal opinion that what makes the park so special and unique is the hearts of it owners Mark and Dawn Smith.
I have been coming to Eco Park Resort at Mt. St. Helens for thirteen years. My first visit to the park was when I was 16 years old and I wasn't sure what to expect. Mark quickly made me feel like part of the family and I had the most amazing time. After my first visit I came up to Park every weekend from then on that summer. I now live in California and make it to Washington at least once a year to visit family. My visits always include a stop to the park to visit Mark and Dawn who I consider family.
Mark and Dawn are two of the kindest, most down to earth people I have ever met. Whether you want to learn about the history of Mt. St. Helens or discuss local politics or worldly affairs, Mark is a wealth of information, kept grounded by his amazing wife Dawn. I have brought many friends to the park over the years and they all agree that our time there is always too short.
It has been so special for me to have known Mark and Dawn for so long and have them and the park feel like a part of my history. I have had the pleasure of bringing my wife to the park several times now and she loves it as much as I do.
To anybody considering visiting Eco Park Resort at Mt. St. Helens I would highly recommend it. Just bring an overnight bag because I can guarantee that one afternoon will not be enough time to explore all the park has to offer.
Thanks for everything,
Eric & Donna Lyn
Captain Steve & 1st Mate Diane
Paula & Jason Maden
The Wargo family
Steve, Mary, Jacquelyn
Crystal Hanson & Jacquelyn Wargo
(If you see anything, contact us!)
(Traveling from San Diego to Virginia-this is our honeymoon)
What a great place to stumble upon! The cabin was really cozy, just the break we needed from camping for a week. Good luck to the Smith family! We will come back here someday.
We wish you all the best and we are going to be back sometime this summer.
Jennifer & David Peters
We wish you every success in your very interesting enterprise.
Verna & Ray Dearnley
So nice facilities, made with great concern according to guests. Beautiful spot, with the pond & surrounding woods. Also felt just like Ernest Thompson Seton, like a boy again.
Mt. St. Helens: nearly scaring & so amazing. Will never see something like that again.
We have been camping at Eco Park for about 2 years now. Winter or summer, whatever the season we have always enjoyed your hospitality. It is like spending the weekend with family with out the bad stuff.
Whether we are hiking the beautiful trails or going on horseback, we and our friends never cease to be thrilled with the beauty of your surroundings and wild life.
One of the highlights we will always enjoy remembering is the helicopter-ride up the mud flow.
Our hats are off to the two of you for providing a wonderful refuge where we can get away and relax.
Beryl & Balinda Hood,