Robert C. Kirkwood Entrance at Castle Rock State Park
Friday, September 27 and Saturday, September 28 marked the Grand Opening celebrations of the new Kirkwood Entrance at Castle Rock State Park, which opened its doors to the public on August 1. Click here to see images from the Grand Opening events! This entrance facility was made possible by a generous gift from the Kirkwood family, you, and other Sempervirens Fund supporters. Join our mailing list to get news and event notices for the Kirkwood Entrance.
Activation Events at the Kirkwood Entrance
Join Sempervirens Fund and our project partners as we welcome visitors of all ages to the new entrance to experience the wonders of Castle Rock State Park and the Santa Cruz Mountains. Each third Saturday of the month we’ll have a different event–all free! (NOTE: Parking at the Kirkwood Entrance is $10.00 per vehicle–or free if you have an annual California State Parks Parking Pass.) Upcoming events:
- Saturday, October 19: Ecology & Stewardship
9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. | SIGN UP
- Saturday, November 16: Responsible Recreation
9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. | SIGN UP
Opening Day News
Check out the following news stories on the opening of the Kirkwood Entrance:
More than just an entrance, the new facility stands as your portal to the majesty of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Amenities include:
- 90-car parking lot with environmentally friendly permeable paving;
- A Native Plants Garden, planted and tended by the Amah Mutsun Land Trust, that illustrates how Native Americans used local plants for medicinal and other purposes;
- A restored native black oak forest, planted with the help of Sempervirens Fund volunteers;
- Free Wi-Fi and a downloadable trail map app;
- Free charging stations for electric vehicles;
- 60-seat, accessible amphitheater for events and programs;
- A drinking water station and accessible pathways and picnic areas; and
- And perhaps most importantly: bathrooms with flush toilets!
People like you supported Sempervirens Fund’s purchase of the 33-acre parcel, which was a former Christmas tree farm. In total, Sempervirens Fund donors provided $8.7 million to design, plan, permit, and build this important addition to Castle Rock State Park. Thank you!
Plan Your Visit to Castle Rock
At Castle Rock State Park there is something for everyone:
- Legend has it that the sport of rock climbing actually started here!;
- The Castle Rock Trail Camp is open year-round on a first-come, first-serve basis;
- Castle Rock State Park includes 34 miles of hiking trails;
- The start of the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail, a 32-mile backpacking trail, that continues through Big Basin Redwoods State Park to Waddell Beach. Backpacking reservations required;
- There are several short walks perfect for families with young children that are also accessible to people with limited mobility; and
- Volunteer opportunities. Throughout the year, Sempervirens Fund holds a variety of volunteer events, including invasive species removal, trail clean ups, and more! Check out our Volunteer Page for more information. You can also volunteer with the Amah Mutsun Land Trust in the native garden or with get involved with Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks
Parking is $10.00 per day, which you can pay for at self-serve kiosks. California State Parks Annual Parking Pass holders should display their pass when parking. The Kirkwood Entrance triples the amount of day-use parking at Castle Rock State Park–and each space is paved! The old parking lot, located about one-quarter mile further south on Highway 35 / Skyline Blvd., is reserved for overnight guests and may be used for overflow parking at the discretion of park staff. Overnight guests with reservations will receive a gate code to access the old parking lot. NOTE: The Kirkwood Entrance gate is closed and locked every day at sunset .
Since the Kirkwood Entrance opening may gain a lot of interest, we ask that you plan your trip ahead of time. Weekdays are optimal days to visit the park to ensure you get one of the 90 parking spots. The Kirkwood Entrance operating hours are 8:00 a.m. to sunset, daily.
Since Sempervirens Fund established it 50 years ago, Castle Rock State Park has been Silicon Valley’s closest state park, helping thousands of people–visitors and local residents–experience the wonders of nature. Now, the Kirkwood Entrance stands as a portal, welcoming visitors to the majesty of the Santa Cruz Mountains.
In 1959, Russell Varian obtained an option to buy the land surrounding Castle Rock for the purposes of creating a new state park. Sadly, he died before he could complete the purchase. Yet, Russell’s wife, Dorothy, was persistent and committed. She and Sempervirens Fund created Castle Rock State Park in 1968. Together, they launched the legacy you and other Sempervirens Fund donors carry on to this day. Today, Castle Rock spans 5,242 acres and continues to attract rock climbers, hikers, and day trippers. This tremendous public resource would not have been possible without forward-looking thinkers like the Varians and you.
Rent the Facilities at the Kirkwood Entrance
Did you know that you can have your wedding, private party, or even a corporate event at Castle Rock’s New Robert C. Kirkwood Entrance? It has a projector and screen for movies or presentations and a fire pit (permit needed for fire). Please contact the State Park Special Events Office for details.