Castle Rock looks like a scale model of Gibraltar standing in a desert sea. Looming 400 feet above the surrounding terrain with near-vertical cliffs on three sides, it appears unconquerable without difficult technical climbing (or a helicopter). But the Rock has a secret: A crack in one of those sheer faces provides a climbing route that any jungle-gym showoff can follow to the top.
The Rock is an easy day trip from Tucson or Nogales, Arizona. It’s located in the Coronado National Forest with plenty of fishing, camping and hiking possibilities nearby. It's also on the way to Atascosa Peak, so the two could be bagged in a single, very entertaining day of hiking.
From Tucson, take I-19 south to AZ 289 (Ruby Road). Go west on Ruby Road for about nine miles. At this point, near the turnoff to Peña Blanca Lake, the pavement ends. About 0.4 mi. further along the dirt road, a 4WD trail splits off to the left (south). Four-wheel-drives may follow this trail another 0.8 mi. to park within spitting distance of the Rock. Less rugged vehicles should continue on the good road another 0.2 mi. to a marked parking pullout on the left.
No permits or fees are required for access to the Rock; however, there are fees for overnight camping and other services at nearby Peña Blanca Lake or Calabasas Campground. See the Forest Service page for more information.
When To Climb
Year-round, though in summer an early start would be wise to miss the worst heat of the day.
Camping and other services are available at nearby Peña Blanca Lake or Calabasas Campground. See the Forest Service page for more information.
See the Forest Service page, check the weather forecast for Nogales, Arizona or contact the Nogales Ranger District at (520)-281-2296.
- Geocache GC7C2E
"The Rock at Pena Blanca" describes the geocache located at the summit of Castle Rock and includes visitor logs.