Castle Rock State Park

UPDATE (March 31, 2020): This park is temporarily closed to vehicular access. The park remains open for locals who wish to walk, hike and bike (in parks with bike trails) in the park, provided they practice social/physical distancing of 6 feet or more. This is not the time for a road trip to a destination park or beach.

In an effort to prevent visitation surges and help stop the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), State Parks has implemented the following safety measures to date:
  • Closed some parks, meaning all trails and restrooms within these parks are closed.
  • Closed vehicular access at remaining parks, including for off-highway vehicle riding.
  • Closed all campgrounds, museums and visitor centers.
  • Cancelled all events.

A list of closures is available online at The list is dynamic and updated on a regular basis.

The new Robert C. Kirkwood entrance is open! It is located at 15451 Skyline Blvd, 1/4 mile north of the old entrance. All vehicles must now enter at the Kirkwood entrance for on-site parking. Vehicle day-use fees are $10 per vehicle. 

Phone Number

(408) 868-9540

Park Hours

Kirkwood Enterence Station Hours: 9am to 5pm, Monday through Sunday

Day Use Hours: 8am to Sunset.  

Trail Camps require registration or reservations.   

Driving Directions to Castle Rock SP

The park is located on Highway 35, just 2 1/2 miles southeast of the junction with Highway 9.

Online reservations are not available for this park.

Upcoming Park Events

No events scheduled at this moment.

Environmental Campsites
Hike or Bike Campsites
Hiking Trails
Horseback Riding
Historical/Cultural Site
Interpretive Exhibits
Vista Point
Drinking Water Available

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DAY USE AREAS (trails, beaches): Open; Please bring cash in exact change to pay fees at self-registration stations. 

RESTROOMS: Open; Please bring soap for handwashing or hand sanitizer. 

PARKING LOTS: All parking lots in San Mateo County-area parks and specific parking lots in Santa Cruz County-area parks are temporarily closed. Click here for the latest updates.  

CAMPGROUNDS: Temporarily Closed



LARGE EVENTS: Temporarily Suspended


California State Parks is taking steps to support state and local efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). As of March 23, 2020, State Parks has temporarily closed vehicular traffic to certain parks experiencing high visitation. This includes all San Mateo County parks. To see a current list of impacted parks, visit For those wishing to take a break in the outdoors, public health officials are advising them to walk, run, hike and bike in their local neighborhoods and walk to parks. Most importantly, the public is being asked not to congregate in the outdoors.

Campgrounds are temporarily closed as of March 17, 2020. Camping reservation holders will be contacted via email for refunds. Visitor Centers, museums, and park stores are also temporarily closed.

Guided tours, educational programs, and large events are temporarily suspended as of March 14, 2020. Tour reservation holders will be contacted via email for refunds. Special event applications have been suspended until further notice as of March 14, 2020.

As of March 17, 2020, non-campground outdoor areas of parks, including trails and beaches, remain open. Visitors are reminded to practice social distancing and maintain at least six feet between other visitors and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. Restrooms also remain open, and visitors are advised to take soap for hand washing and alcohol-based hand sanitizers when water is not available.

State Parks recommends that everyone follow precautionary guidance issued by the California Department of Public Health, public local health agencies, the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when recreating in the outdoors. Everyone has the responsibility to “flatten the COVID-19 curve at Parks” by maintaining a social distance of 6 ft. or more when recreating in the outdoors, and staying home if they are sick. If visitors cannot maintain social distancing, they need to leave the park.

For the most up-to-date information on how State Parks is supporting the state’s COVID-19 efforts, please visit and follow State Parks on its social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Due to damage to the water system at the Castle Rock Trail Camp, there is no water available at the campground at this time. 

Potable water available is available at the Kirkwood Entrance on Skyline Boulevard (Highway 35) and at Waterman Gap Trail Camp in the southwest corner of the park. Campers at Castle Rock Trail Camp must plan ahead and pack all of the water they we need for their stay before they leave the Kirkwood Entrance.    

We are working to fix the problem as quickly as possible but the system will be out for the foreseeable future.

Thank you for your understanding as we work to fix the problem.

Trail Conditions at Castle Rock State Park

Current conditions on the Castle Rock State Park Trails


  • There is NO water available at Waterman Gap Trail Camp. All water must be packed in or filtered. The nearest water source south of Waterman Gap Trail Camp is Boulder Creek, located at the intersection of East Ridge Trail and Skyline to the Sea. The nearest water source north of Waterman Gap Trail Camp is Tin Can Creek, located on the Saratoga Toll Road Trail.

All trails currently OPEN, but please keep in mind the following:
  •  Please check with staff at the Entrance Station to see if your planned route is safe and passable.
  • Remember that all trails close at sunset. You need to plan ahead to complete your hike before sunset.
  • ALWAYS carry a map and water. Bring warm clothes and a flashlight in case you get caught out after dark.
  • The rainy season has started so expect trails to be muddy and slick even has it has not rained in a week or more. 
  • Expect to find down trees. You will need to climb over, around, or under them. If you cannot get safely past down trees, you will need to turn back. You are responsible for gauging what you can safely cross. When in doubt, TURN BACK!
  • Trail conditions are always changing, so please be aware that you may come across blocked trails that we do not know about. If you cannot safely cross a blocked or damaged section of trail, you will need to turn around. When in doubt, TURN BACK!

The new Kirkwood Entrance is Open!

The new Robert C. Kirkwood entrance at Castle Rock State Park is open for use. 

The new Robert C. Kirkwood entrance is located at 15451 Skyline Blvd, approximately 1/4 of a mile north of the old entrance on Skyline Blvd (Highway 35), approximately 2 miles south of Highway 9 at Saratoga Gap.

The Robert C. Kirkwood entrance offers 90 parking spaces, restrooms, interpretative displays about the natural and cultural history of the area, an Amphitheater and Flexible Event Space, and a trailhead to link to the spectacular backcountry of Caste Rock State Park. The Robert C. Kirkwood entrance project was made possible through a collaboration between California State Parks, the Sempervirens Fund and Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks.       

Here are some helpful reminders about the Robert C. Kirkwood entrance:

  • Potable Water is now available at the Robert C. Kirkwood entrance. We have water bottle fill stations so you can fill up you water bottles, canteens, and hydration packs before you hit the trial. 
  • Day use parking costs $10.00 per vehicle. Extra vehicle parking for overnight users costs $10.00 per vehicle, per night. 
  • Automatic Pay Stations are available for use when the office is not staffed. These Automatic Pay Stations accept cash or cards. No change is given so if you are using cash, please bring exact change. 
  • The entrance gates are open from 8am until Sunset. Please plan accordingly so you can find an open gate when you arrive and when you leave.   
  • Electric Vehicle Charging Stations are available for those visiting with electric vehicle. They are limited in number so please plan accordingly.  
  • The old parking lot, now called the Overflow Lot, will still be used for overnight users and overflow parking.  All visitors should check in at the new Robert C. Kirkwood entrance before attempting to park in the Overflow Lot.   

Visiting Castle Rock

Castle Rock State Park ViewCastle Rock State Park is a land of sculpted sandstone, lush forests, and sweeping vistas. From one of the highest ridges in the Santa Cruz Mountains, park visitors enjoy hiking, backpacking, and horseback riding. Rock climbers explore the park's caverns and rocks, including the namesake Castle Rock. Plant-lovers come for California black oaks, knobcone pines, and high-elevation coast redwoods. The park’s 34 miles of rugged trails conveniently connect to an extensive trail system that links the Santa Clara and San Lorenzo valleys to nearby Big Basin Redwoods State Park and open space preserves on the Skyline to the Sea Trail.

Basic Park Information

*Please note there is no visitor center or store facilities at Castle Rock.

FEES: There is a $10 vehicle day-use fee. [Regular Sized Auto: $10 (Senior $9, age 62 or older); Bus Parking (10-24 passengers): $50; Bus Parking (25+ passengers): $100]
*Please bring cash*

NO CELL RECEPTION within the park and the surrounding area. Due to this, ridesharing services are not recommended.


DOGS are prohibited throughout the park (except for service animals). Nearby Sanborn County Park allows dogs.

HORSES are allowed on Saratoga Toll Road which extends from Saratoga Gap to Big Basin Redwoods State Park.

BICYCLES are allowed on the Skyline Trail (Bay Area Ridge Trail) located on the north side of Highway 35.

DRONES are not allowed in the park. To protect wildlife and cultural resources, and for the safety and welfare of visitors and staff, the park is closed to the use of Model Aircraft, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), and Gliders in flight.

GLASS CONTAINERS are prohibited through out the park.

SMOKING is prohibited through out the park.

FIREARMS or any device capable of harming any person or animal are prohibited— including BB guns, spears, bows, arrows and slingshots.

FIRES are permitted only in designated fire rings in the Castle Rock Trail Camp during the OFF fire season. Gathering firewood, including twigs and leaves, is prohibited. Firewood is sold at the Castle   Rock Trail Camp.

RESPECT PRIVATE PROPERTY rights and stay on designated trails.

NATURAL & CULTURAL FEATURES ARE PROTECTED BY LAW - Do not pick wildflowers, mushrooms, or other plants, or remove any park features. Do not deface rocks with graffiti or feed, disturb, or harm wildlife.

WEDDINGS, PARTIES, AND SPECIAL EVENT PERMITS please call (831) 335-6324 or email

Castle Rock Trail Camp is now Part of the Backcounty Trail Camp System

Starting Febuary 10th, Castle Rock Trail Camp will now have 15 of 20 campsites available by reservation only as part of the Backcountry Trail Camp System. You can make reservations by using the visiting the Santa Cruz Mountains Backcountry Trail Camps page.

Castle Rock Trail Camp will still have 5 sites available on a first come first serve basis. To get one for the first come first serve sites, check in with staff at the Robert C. Krikwood Parking Lot on Highway 35. There you will register and pay your fees. Do not hike to the Castle Rock Trail Camp and attempt to find a site before registering at the Robert C. Krikwood Parking Lot.

Castle Rock Trail Camp has trash receptacles, bathrooms, and 20 campsites with picnic tables and fire rings.

There is currently NO WATER avalable at Castle Rock Trail Camp and you will have to hike in all of your water. Castle Rock Trail Camp is a 2.5 mile (4 kilometer) hike from the parking area.  

GathThe Castle Rock Trail Camp will continue to allow fires during the rainy season in the designated metal fire rings. Fires are not allowed during fire season. Signs will be posted indicating whether or not fires are permitted. Do not gather wood for fires. Firewood will be available when fires are allowed and cost $10.00 per bundle. Please bring cash and exact change to purchase fire wood. Please call Castle Rock State Park at (408) 868-9540 to ask about fire closure.

The cost for campsites is $15 per night. This includes overnight parking for one vehicle. Each additional vehicle is $10 per night.