2023-2024 Field Trips in Santa Cruz Area State Parks are Now Available!

Discover Castle Rock 

Explore sun-soaked ridges, stunning mountain vistas, and cave-filled rock formations at Castle Rock State Park, often called the Gateway to the Santa Cruz Mountains. Perched atop the skyline, this park has an array of natural landscapes to explore; chaparral hillsides, grassy ridgetop meadows, mixed hardwood and redwood forests. The park is teeming with diverse wildlife not just on the ground, but in the streams, under the earth, in the trees and the sky. Not to be missed is the park’s namesake, the 60-foot-tall Castle Rock sandstone formation or “boss” with multiple caves inside, that can be done as a moderately easy 1.25-mile loop hike.

Keep reading to learn about our in-person and virtual field trip programs at Castle Rock.

In-Person Program:

During this three hour program, students will learn about the natural wonders of Castle Rock State Park by hiking the trails. The hike will focus on the park's distinctive geology, but will also touch on other subjects including Native American peoples, local wildlife, and modern human impacts to our ecosystems. All attendees should be prepared for a 1.5-mile hike up to Castle Rock, the park’s namesake feature, so be sure to bring water and a bag lunch and wear close-toed shoes or hiking boots. The maximum group size is 30 students per program with a preferred adult to student ratio of 1:8 (not including park staff). 

Please note: You may qualify for reimbursement for your field trip costs through PassPORTS, a California State Parks project focused on increasing equitable and sustainable access for K-12 communities. Learn more about PassPORTS

Register for an In-Person Field Trip!


Virtual Program: 

Just because you can’t come to the park doesn’t mean you can’t experience it! Students can explore the natural wonders of Castle Rock State Park from the comfort of their own classroom, and can even take a virtual hike guided by our staff interpreter to Castle Rock, the park’s namesake rock formation. Our virtual field trips focus on the park's distinctive geology but also touch on subjects including Native American peoples, local wildlife, and modern human impacts to our ecosystems.

Register for a Virtual Field Trip!

This is a Kids2Parks Participating Park! 

Kids2Park LogoKids2Parks is an innovative park-equity program to bring students from Title 1 schools to State Park field trips. The program, a partnership between California State Parks and Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks, increases the number of students who have visited a state park or beach by reducing barriers to access. The program offers transportation funding for field trips to select Title 1 schools in Santa Cruz, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties. For more information, and to apply, please visit www.thatsmypark.org/visit/k2p.