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Castle Rock State Park is an outdoor oasis tucked away within the scenic Santa Cruz Mountains. The park falls predominantly in Santa Cruz County but also stretches into Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. The geography of the region alone attracts an exceptionally wide range of visitors. The lush forests and vibrant flora make it a top destination for nature lovers, while the epic peaks and dips attract hikers.
Caves, rocks, and winding trails make it ideal for those seeking a new and challenging hiking trail as well as rock climbers of various experience levels. The area is dotted with unique rock formations, canyons, and hiking trails. For the most part, the natural environment has been left untouched, giving visitors a truly wild and exhilarating experience. One of the most popular activities, Skyline-to-Sea, starts at this park and ventures into California's famous redwoods.
For families and campers seeking home comforts, RV rentals near Castle Rock State Park are available in the nearby town of Los Gatos. Alternatively, San Jose offers an array of rental options. No matter where you choose to book an RV in Santa Cruz County, you'll find no shortage of motorhome rentals to suit your needs and budget.
Castle Rock State Park campers flock to this serene setting to enjoy the many activities on offer here. Thrillseekers in search of an exhilarating adventure can try out the rock climbing routes. The Vaqueros sandstone outcrops provide the ideal challenge for bouldering and rock climbing. What makes these outcrops of sandstone particularly thrilling is the unique tafoni patterns. The outside layers of the sandstone are relatively hard and suitable for bolting. The park requires that you request permission before placing any new bolts. Due to the fragile nature of sandstone, rock climbers are always encouraged to avoid wet rocks. Ensure the area is thoroughly dry following rain.
If you'd rather stay on the ground, you'll find several worthwhile hiking trails to choose from. The Saratoga Toll Road offers many scenic views, and the green canopy overhead provides shade. Be sure to hike the Saratoga Gap to snap photos of the stunning Castle Rock Falls. The Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail is a 33-mile trek that links Castle Rock with the Big Basin Redwoods State Park. Enjoy breathtaking views of the San Lorenzo Valley and the Pacific Ocean when you take on Goat Rock Overlook. Those are simply the highlights of the park's extensive trail network, which offers hikes suited to all skill levels.
Finally, wildlife watching is a firm favorite with outdoor enthusiasts camping at Castle Rock State Park. If you're lucky, you might spot an elusive mountain lion or a bobcat. More common sightings include turkeys, black-tailed deer, and quail. Watch out for snakes on your excursions through the park as well.
If you're planning to go RV camping at Castle Rock State Park, we have some bad news for you. Both of the campgrounds at Castle Rock State Park are hike-in trail camps, and there aren't any sites that can accommodate RV rentals or trailers. Nearby Big Basin Redwoods State Park is a good place to camp in a trailer near Castle Rock State Park, with sites accommodating small vehicles up to 24 feet long.
Those who aren't camping in an RV can choose from 20 primitive hike-in sites at the main campground, or an additional six sites at the Waterman Gap Trail Camp. You'll want to bring plenty of water along for the journey to either campground. The main camp is over two and a half miles from the parking area, while Waterman Gap is nine miles. Amenities include vault toilets, limited drinking water, and fire rings. Campers willing to make the trek will be rewarded with sweeping vistas of the Santa Cruz Mountains from a dizzying elevation of 2,400 feet.
This captivating corner of California offers an abundance of activities, attractions, and natural wonders. Just 15 minutes from the park, in Saratoga, you'll find Hakone Estate and Gardens. Spend some time admiring the koi ponds, or treat yourself to a tea ceremony at these tranquil Japanese gardens. Afterward, explore the quaint, historic downtown area of Saratoga, where you'll find a slew of locally-owned shops and gourmet dining options.
San Jose is also worth the 35-minute drive from Castle Rock State Park. Treat the kids to a fun day at the amusement park, or learn more about the area's Spanish history at Mission Santa Clara de Asis. The star attraction here is the Winchester Mystery House, the former home of Sarah Winchester, widower of William Winchester, inventor of the Winchester repeater rifle. Tormented by grief following the deaths of her husband and infant child, Sarah purchased the estate in the late 19th century and continued building onto it right up until her death in 1922. Legend has it that Sarah consulted a psychic, who supposedly instructed her to build ceaselessly to confuse the evil spirits haunting her. The result is a lavish yet peculiar 160-room mansion with a maze of hallways, staircases, and doors leading seemingly nowhere.