2 Towns Claim to be the Gateway to Mount Saint Helens. Which is the true gate?

I’m a little confused about these claims as gateways. The first gateway that I approached was Castle Rock, so I naturally assumed they are the one true gateway.

I entered into Mount Saint Helens through this majestic gateway and was left awe-inspired. I didn’t think there was anything that could rival it:

There is only one road that leads to the volcano, largely because of the risk of it all being wiped out by another severe blast. The road through Castle Rock made sense. I even found evidence from the volcano having affected the area around Castle Rock when I found pumice stone:

I spent a few days in this interesting quiet town sleeping in my car. I left having my curiosities reasonably satisfied about the area.

But then I drive further north and stop in Winlock and eventually Toledo:

I was surprised to see paintings saying that their city was the real gateway. I felt so used to see more than one city claim that they are the true gateway. It’s like buying a vacuum from a salesman who says they have the best product, and then another one comes by, trashes my new vacuum and says that they have the best. Something doesn’t feel right.

So, I looked on the map to see what was going on here. Did Toledo really have a road that even led to Mount Saint Helens? I thought I looked at that map closely enough to clearly see only one road leading to the park:

bandicam 2015-07-28 17-48-44-661

Sure there is a Hwy 504 and 505 that intersect with each other. But ultimately, the main road that ends at the Johnston Observatory is the 505, which starts in Castle Rock. So, Toledo appears to be more of a back gate than the true gate.

But I have to be reasonable in my conclusion for a minute here. Not everybody approaches Mount Saint Helens from the south. Some people will come down from the north, such as the Canadians. They will most likely pass through Toledo to avoid driving any further than they have to.

The northerners and southerners will have different impressions of which town is the true gateway to the Mount Saint Helens. It can be a debate that will live on for ages, or until the next volcano explosion that wipes out both towns.


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