Castle Rocks State Park is located in southern Idaho near the quaint town of Almo. It is a beautiful drive through northern Utah and onto the quiet, peaceful country roads of southern Idaho. Almo is only a few miles north of the Utah border as the crow flies.
Almo has a population of about 150 people and sits along the California Trail. It is also along the City of Rocks Back Country byway which is a beautiful scenic drive. Almo has a Visitor’s Center (for both Castle Rocks State Park and the City of Rocks National Reserve), The Outpost steak restaurant, and Tracy’s General Store. Tracy’s is the oldest continuously operating store in Idaho. The area could not be more quaint and charming.
Castle Rocks State Park has one campground called Smoky Campground. It is located a few miles from the state park up in the hills in the pinyons and junipers along the eastern slope of the 7,500′ Smoky Mountain. It is hardly visible from the road. The nearby City of Rocks National Reserve is well known as a rock climbers dream so even the campground host has a supply of Metolius Super Chalk!
Campground: Castle Rocks State Park – Smoky Mountain Campground
Location: Almo, Idaho
Site: 26 (Back in)
Comments: This turned out to be one of our favorite campgrounds and campsites. We were nestled all snug away amidst the juniper and pinyons with lots of site privacy, lots of peace and quiet, and easy access to hiking trails. AND the views were fabulous! The campground sits at close to 5,000 feet elevation which offered us some cooler weather from the hot summer sun.
COVID Awareness: 10 out of 10. Picnic table looked clean (I still wiped it down). The combined state/federal Visitor Center had social distancing circles outside of the building and limited entry to one person at a time. Employee inside was wearing a mask along with a large plastic window in front of him. Masks were recommended to enter. Hand sanitizer was available. We did not use any other public building while there.
Note: Idaho State Parks require a MVEF (Motor Vehicle Entry Fee) for additional vehicles other than your RV/camper/trailer. If you tow a vehicle there is an additional $5 per day required. An option is to buy an annual pass for $10 (Idaho resident) or $40 (non Idaho resident) which gives that vehicles free access to any Idaho state park for the year. Additionally, Idaho State Parks gives a camping discount for those over 62 years of age for camping during week days. The MVEF fee is NOT included in the above cost per night
Visitor Center in Almo
We went there to purchase our annual vehicle pass. It was quick, efficient, social distanced, and COVID aware! Thank you!
Hiking at Castle Rocks State Park
The Castle Rocks State Park is about a 5 or 10 minute drive north of Smoky Campground and offers a variety of hiking trails which allow you to explore in and around the rocks. There is a bunkhouse and yurt there along with a nice, long hike to the peak.
City Of Rocks National Reserve
City of Rocks National Reserve is even closer to Smoky Campground than to Castle Rocks State Park. It took us about 1 or 2 minutes to drive to the entrance. Over 200,000 emigrants followed the California Trail between 1843 and 1882 and journeyed through the City of Rocks. They were spellbound by the beauty and uniqueness of the rocks and they would stop, rest, and engrave their names of the rocks before heading off to some of the most difficult parts of their journey.
City of Rocks is also a world class rock climbing area offering a variety of textured granite spires which range from 30 to 600 feet. Over 700 routes have been developed.
There are several campgrounds in City of Rocks, most more suited to tenting but several sites could accommodate small rigs. The west part of the Reserve along Emory Canyon entrance offers a tenting area called Finger Rock. We saw site 63 which offered gorgeous views. A great campsite!
The Almo Entrance to the Reserve has an area called Circle Creek Overlook. We took a long hike from that area over to a rock called the Spire which leads on to Bread Loves. A fabulous hike!
We enjoyed our time here and could have easily added a few more days to get in a few more hikes!!