Castle Crags SP
Narrated by Russ Christoff

Heading north on Highway 5 towards Mt. Shasta, I came to Castle Crags State Park.

Although, generally known for its trail access to these impressive rock formations, a visit to this park will offer the visitor far more.

In what seems a freak of nature, ecosystems from all over northern California meet in an unusual tapestry that is the essence of this state park.

Eighty million years ago, deep within the earth, a blob of molten granite formed. As that granite hardened, it passed through a number of layers of rock toward the surface. Glaciers in the last 30 million years have gradually covered that rock, whose shape you see now.

That rock is slowly moving upward.

And as it moves upward, the forces of gravity and the elements, wind, rain and snow are breaking it down, and carrying it toward the ocean.

Today, trails lead through the park to the 100 square miles of crags, whose massive granite faces are particularly appealing to rock climbers.

The main campground, built in the 1930's by the California Conservation Corp, contains 64 sites.

Flush toilets and showers were added over the years.

Twelve campsites may be found at the Sacramento River section of the park, which also offers day use picnicking, and a cool dip on a hot day.

As we toured the area, the ranger Fred, showed me some examples of vegetation from the six northern California ecosystems that converge here in this 4,000 acre park.

RANGER FRED: Originally, this park was purchased to preserve public access to the crags. That's an important reason to have a park here. The real miracle is much more subtle than that.

We have a diversity here that you see nowhere else in the world.

RUSS CHRISTOFF: So right here is all these ecosystems coming together, dropping in one place.

RANGER FRED: We have 12 species of orchids and a lot of plants that are unique to the crags only. And because we do, it's an important place to preserve.