Castle Rock Drive
Watch for pronghorns, mule deer, white-tailed deer, and black-tailed jackrabbits. In summer, survey the canyons and roads for black-billed magpies, rock wrens, mourning doves, loggerhead shrikes, vesper sparrows, and lark sparrows. At night, Ord's kangaroo rats are often seen crossing the roads. Late fall through early spring, horned larks, longspurs, rough-legged hawks, prairie falcons, and northern harriers are frequently observed. Northern shrikes are occasionally sighted. Coyotes, red-tailed hawks, American kestrels, ferruginous hawks, and meadowlarks are seen throughout the year. Some prairie dog towns are found in heavily grazed areas. They are inhabited not only by black-tailed prairie dogs but also by burrowing owls and thirteen-lined ground squirrels.
When you cross the cattle grate to enter the Castle Rock area, notice the ungrazed area ahead. If you drive straight forward, you can park on top of a rocky bluff overlooking the Hackberry Creek Valley. The bluff is ruggedly carved into formations called hoodoos. Castle Rock stands about a 1/4 mile away to the north. It is made of the same rock - Niobrara chalk - as lies underneath your feet.
The great puzzle of Castle Rock is why it persisted when all the rock between it and the bluff was eroded away. Erosion never stops, however, and the taller spire of Castle Rock seen in these photos partially collapsed on July 22, 2001 after a thunderstorm.
Lesser earless lizards, ornate box turtles, plains garter snakes, and western hognose snakes are found in the area. Western rattlesnakes may be present, so look where you step! Watch for great horned owls that nest in the hoodoo area. Look for sharks' teeth and other fossils among the chalk rocks and gravel. This area was once the bottom of a large ocean.
Camping not allowed.
No developed trails.
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