Castle Rock SP: The Crown Jewel on Santa Cruz’s Skyline

Ten recreation options available at Castle Rock State Park, just north of Boulder Creek, from climbing to horseback riding to picnicking with a view.

By Hilltromper staff

Apr. 10, 2024—With its position atop one of the highest ridges in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Castle Rock State Park can easily be seen as the crown jewel of the county’s park systems. The fact that the jewels in this crown are climbable sandstone outcroppings that nature has shaped into the beautifully strange structures called “tafoni” pretty much seals the deal.

While the Vaqueros sandstone may be the most notable single feature at Castle Rock, it is not the best reason to take the drive up Highway 9 to Skyline Boulevard for a visit. Because the park offers such a wide variety of recreational opportunities, the best reason for a visit will depend on your preferences, the weather, or your mood.

Hilltromper’s Bridget Lyons visited Castle Rock last week and put together a piece, which we are running “over the hill” on Hilltromper Silicon Valley, simply headlined: 10 Ways to Play at Castle Rock State Park. The list of course features climbing and bouldering—the activities the park is famous for—and also includes useful info about hiking and trail-running, backpacking and camping, waterfall viewing and horseback riding. And even more!

Hilltromper presents this information in partnership with our friends at Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks. We include a note about Castle Rock’s newish entrance, and an invitation to NOT park on the highway, and instead pay to park in the lot, and help support that awesome organization’s important work. Read the article.