Located far into northern California, Castle Crags is a unique and enormous area that consists of fair to excellent quality granite spires, domes and walls, most with views of Mount Shasta. Climbs range in height from 20 feet to over 900 feet.

The majority of the climbing is trad, but there is a small sportier area known as the Pin Cushion Wall. Pretty cool white/light grey rock that's overwhelming in quantity. Most the cracks are pretty easy to protect. Venturing out onto the dikes, where more solid rock can be found can require more creative placement than the mindless cam-to-crack-ing that can occur on your way up your average crack.

You can camp year-round in Castle Crags State Park either in the designated camp-sites - with running water and showers - or near the rock - where you have to pack in water - a 1.5 hour hike uphill from the camp. Fires are usually not permitted in the back country during the summer months, so consider that in your planning.

Also, the nearby town is supposed to be cute - but I didn't visit it. However, my friends did and it seems Dunsmuir has most camping necessities available.

Other than being a really long ways from the Bay Area (3-5 hours, depending where you live), the only other negative to this excellent climbing area is the minimum 1 hour (and sometimes 2 1/2) hour steadily uphill 1500 - 3000 vertical feet gain approach. If you're not warmed up by the time you're at your route, you're insane.

Getting There

From the Bay Area (or almost anywhere in California) get on 5 northbound. About 45 miles north of Redding you'll get one warning sign 'Castle Crags State Park - Next Exit.' About 3/4 of a mile further, exit and hang a left. Follow the signs to the Park, then depending on your agenda park either near the campsites or up at Vista Point (also known as Viewpoint in Davis' Classic Rock Climbs). If you're staying backcountry overnight you must park at the State Park Scenic Overlook (near the campsites). Day parking permits are $4/day, or if you're paying to camp, you park for free.

Check out that Map! Pretty bleak, huh?

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Classic Climbing Routes at Castle Crags

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
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Weather Averages

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George Bell
Boulder, CO
George Bell   Boulder, CO
This area is fun to explore and wasn't very popular when I was last there (over 15 years ago). The rock is limestone which varies in quality, some of it is amazingly sharp, like limestone can get. Jun 16, 2004
Bryson Slothower
Portland, OR
Bryson Slothower   Portland, OR
The Castle Crags I went to was all granite. Jun 21, 2004
George Bell
Boulder, CO
George Bell   Boulder, CO
Granite!! Really? Yikes, I guess my neurons are getting so old, every climb today is an onsight. I remember where that sharp limestone was? Jun 23, 2004
_castle Crags is a granite pluton that has been exposed by years of erosion as well as uplifted a wee bit. The area is different than Yosemite in that it has not been polished by glaciers and in that it is an exfoliating pluton, meaning much of what you touch will soon fall.

Dunsmuir is cute, and is getting cuter by the day, but the best camping is either at the state park proper or up the road at Lake Siskiyou. There's more camping even higher by Castle Lake, which is also a prime point to begin a long and very arduous backside (and thus free) approach into Castle Crags.

I don't mean to plug shamelessly, but Shasta Mountain Guides has an infinite wealth of knowledge on the Crags and are worth contacting for information. They do, of course, also guide there.

-Adam Hicks Aug 28, 2004
Patrick Sawyer
Californian Living in Ireland
Patrick Sawyer   Californian Living in Ireland
I first climbed in Castle Crags in 1974 and a bit in 1975. I haven't been back since but I am surprised the area isn't a bit more developed, though I do remember that the granite wasn't the best in places. That said, there must be enough solid rock there. I have googled for a site dedicated to the Crags but nada. and had the best information.

I just registered so my name won't appear, so I guess I'm in at anonymous coward (not too far off from the truth). Patrick Sawyer, Walnut Creek/Lafayette and now Dublin, Ireland Aug 4, 2005
C Miller   CA is a great website with lots of local news and new route info. Jul 5, 2007
Anybody know what happened to the info on Jan 23, 2015
Nick Black
Arcata, CA
Nick Black   Arcata, CA
Anyone been out to the cosmic wall this winter? was thinking of coming out there soon and was curious about the snow/ice condition of some of the longer routes due to the dry winter. Feb 21, 2015
Chasing Choss
Chasing Choss   California
camping is now 20!!!! bucks a night just fyi. better pay because rangers came by every night. May 2, 2016
Does anyone know if you can camp near any of the walls? Hoping I can spend more time climbing and less time hiking! Oct 22, 2017
zach s
Bend, OR
zach s   Bend, OR
anyone know how much snow there is right now? looking to go down this weekend Jan 8, 2018