Spring flowers, and a butterfly in the Mojave Pres...
The Castle Peaks are a prominent set of spires in the NE corner of the Mojave National Preserve. The towers are visible for miles around in every direction. The route most often done here (Dove Benchmark) climbs one of the highest of these spires, but there is an easier and taller tower about a half mile to the north, North Castle Butte.
I'm not going to bore you with a bunch of desert disclaimers, other than to say that once you get on the back roads you are on your own so plan accordingly...
This is definitely a crag in which getting to the base is significantly more than half the fun. Bring and use a good topo map in order to navigate the dirt roads. The scenery is so beautiful and the area is riddled with old townsites so plan on taking your time on the drive in. We made the drive in my 2WD pick-up with little problem. The final road is pretty rough however, so having some clearance and some horsepower does help. The back roads are not maintained so road quality can change suddenly in response to heavy rains.
The Castle Peaks can be approached from at least two different ways. The traditional way is from the Nipton Road intersection with I-15 just inside the California side of the stateline. That is what I'll describe here. However the network of dirt roads leading away from Searchlight, NV, can be quite high quality and pleasant driving so I'd recommend making the Castle Peaks tour a loop-drive.
Exit I-15 at Nipton Rd. Take the first right, south on Ivanpah Rd. Stay on this road past Morning Star Rd., the main drag through the Preserve. Ivanpah Rd. crosses the railroad tracks and becomes a dirt road. This road changes names to Lanfair Rd. At 17 miles from Nipton Rd you will reach the townsite of Barnwell where you will hang a left, east on Hart Mine Rd. This is a section of grade for the old Barnwell and Searchlight Railroad.
Follow the rail grade past a major right turn (at 4.7 miles) to a faint road on the left (at 5.6 miles). Turn left here and follow this rough road for three miles past an old earthen dam until the road is barricaded at the Wilderness Area boundary. Park here.
Here's a few GPS coordinates (WGS84 datum) 35 18' 28"N 115 09' 19"W turn-off from rail grade to final road 35 20' 34"N 115 10' 49"W wilderness boundary parking area 35 22' 10"N 115 09' 41"W base of Dove Benchmark 5th-class pitch
This is not a destination rock climb. Any normal person would not complete this approach in order to climb 30 feet of junk rock. But the setting is truly sublime and the views from the peak are incredible. Climb the open book for 30 feet. Belay at a fixed sling anchor. Scramble another fifty feet to the summit.Apparently there used to be a USGS benchmark labeled "Dove" on this summit. It's gone now, replaced by a reference mark labeled "NQ 2". Rappel 30 feet from the anchor....[more]Browse More Classics in CA
We also climbed the pinnacle south of the Dove. Note there is a 4th class section on the ridge to the summit. This peak is not very popular. There has been only 2 entries in the log. One in 2007 and one in 2012.