Pinnacles National Park
Paicines CA 95043
- Mon: 12am-12am
- Tue: 12am-12am
- Wed: 12am-12am
- Thu: 12am-12am
- Fri: 12am-12am
- Sat: 12am-12am
- Sun: 12am-12am
Formerly the Pinnacles National Monument, the Pinnacles National Park is located in the California Central Coast region. One of the newest U.S. national parks, it is named for the dramatic rock faces and spires that were formed from an ancient volcano. The park has over 30 hiking trails, ranging from easy to strenuous loops. A year-round campground is available on the east side of the park, which has a swimming pool open from April 1 to September 30. Along with hikers and campers, the park is popular with families, birdwatchers and rock climbers.
Must see and must do at Pinnacles National Park
Scrambling through one of the talus caves—the Bear Gulch Cave (on the east side) or Balconies Cave (on the west side)—is popular among many visitors. Formed by huge boulders that fell into canyons, which created ceilings and passageways, the caves are home to 14 species of bats, including one of the largest colonies of Townsend's Big-eared Bats in California.
Along with seeing amazing sceneries of the park and Salinas Valley, hikers on the High Peaks Trail (elevation 1,425 feet) view up close the impressive volcanic rock spires. The trail at the top is narrow and on steps blasted out of the rock, but guard rails provide hikers with safe passage.
A springtime hike in the park gives visitors the opportunity to see a delightful display of a wide variety of wildflowers, from California poppies to larkspur, monkey flower, flowering shrubs, penstemons, roses, orchids and many more.
Best and worst time to go to Pinnacles National Park
The best time to visit the park is from March to May when the wildflowers are in bloom. The worst time is between late May and early September when the temperatures are high, sometimes reaching triple digits.
Admission to Pinnacles National Park
Open year round, the park has two entrances, which are located on California State Highway 146, but no road connects the entrances. The east entrance is about 30 miles south of Hollister, and is open 24 hours. The West Pinnacles entrance is about 12 miles east of Soledad, and is only open during daylight hours. The park admission fee ranges from five to 10 dollars, which is valid for seven days.
Wildlife at Pinnacles National Park
Soaring throughout the park are California condors, an endangered species, which the park manages as part of a release program for captive-bred condors. About 181 other bird species have been sighted by bird watchers in the park's varied habitats, such as the wild turkey, California quail, red-shouldered hawk, yellow-billed magpie, spotted towhee, white-throated swift, golden eagle and greater roadrunner. The park is also home to deer, bobcats, coyotes, snakes, lizards, bats, butterflies, dragonflies, bees and endangered California red-legged frogs, among many other wild animals.
Internet Access at Pinnacles National Park
Access to the Internet, as well as cell phone service, is unavailable inside the park. There is very limited cell service at the east and west entrances.
Insider tip for Pinnacles National Park
Most trails on the east side start from the Bear Gulch Day Use Area where parking can fill up by 10 a.m. on weekends and holidays. Visitors must then return to the Visitor Center to park and take the shuttle that runs about every 20 minutes. The waiting time can be less, if more than one shuttle is available.
Author's bio: Susan Echaore-McDavid writes a blog about Hollister and the surrounding area.