Castle Rocks State Park is a public recreation area located on the north side of Lake Pend Oreille in the Coeur d’Alene Mountains, nine miles (14km) northeast of Athol in Kootenai County, Idaho. The state park’s 2,100 acres (850ha), including 1,000 acres (400ha) of lake frontage, offer camping facilities and hiking trails for backpackers. It was one of three state parks recommended by the Wilderness Society to be added to the National Register of Historic Places as part of their “Save America’s Treasures” initiative.
On November 5, 2010, the park was severely damaged by a windstorm that uprooted trees and threw debris onto campgrounds and trailheads. Recovery efforts are under way to restore services at the park. Camping facilities have been closed since April 2011 due to dangerous conditions created by excessive amounts of snowfall.
A new campground opened on March 17, 2013. Trails can be accessed via footpaths or bike routes. There is also a network of trails within nearby Priest Point State Forest. Access to these forests is available from Castle Rocks State Park. The park has two main entrances with many other access points along major trails and waterways. One entrance is off of Highway 95 about five miles east of Athol; the other entrance is off of Meridian Road about ten miles west of Athol. Another popular entry point is off of Cle Elum Avenue SE approximately four miles southeast of town, accessible through the I-90 interchange. Parking lot/registration station – This is the primary parking area for most people, as there are not many signs pointing to the various trail heads. Most visitors will register here, then head out the indicated exit road toward their respective destinations.
In May 1942, during World War II, a unit of the Fort Dalles Indian Reservation was assigned to duty at what later became Castle Rocks State Park. Their mission was to construct an unobtrusive perimeter defense around the reservation against possible attack by Japanese Americans who were being detained in internment camps. Two companies built stockades and patrol roads in the undeveloped northern portion of the reservation, where they remained until late June when they were replaced by another company of Indians from the same tribe. Although never attacked, Castle Rock itself was designated a national historic landmark in 1970 because it served as a reminder of the perils faced by Native Americans who lived in North Idaho prior to white settlement.
Recreational activities include:
- mountain biking
- wildlife viewing