Pinnacles National Park is a US national park located in the hills east of the Salinas Valley in Central California. Which is located 8 km east of Soledad and 130 km southeast of San Jose. The name of the park is the shredded remnant of the western half of an extinct volcano. It is 320 km from its original location on the San Andreas Fault, embedded in a portion of the California Pacific Coast range. Pinnacles is managed by the National Park Service and most of the park is protected as a wilderness.
Pinnacles was originally established as a national monument in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt. The national park is divided into east and west divisions by rock formations, connected only by walkways. To the east there is shade and water, to the west there are high walls. The rock formations provide spectacular summits that attract rock climbers. The park has unusual Taal Caves which are home to 13 species of bats. The peak can be visited in spring or fall due to the intense summer. The park’s lands are the prime habitat for prairie falcons.
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Pinnacles National Park Information
California’s Pinnacles National Park is seen on a par with the state’s other larger and more famous parks, such as Yosemite, Death Valley, and Joshua Tree. But if you’re looking for a quiet place to recreate mountain views, explore serene caves, and maybe even spot the rare California condor, Pinnacles is definitely worth a visit. These are the quirks and interesting things about the national park that you will want to know before visiting. Here’s the scoop.
Best Time To Visit Pinnacles National Park
Unlike many national parks, Pinnacles is most popular in the cooler months. During the spring, when the grasses are green and a variety of wildflowers can be seen along any trail, hiking is at its best. Fall and winter are also excellent times to visit.
Pinnacles National Park History
Native Americans in the Pinnacles area include the Chalon and Mutsun groups of the Ohlone people. The local population declined with the arrival of the Spaniards in the 18th century, who brought new diseases and changes in the way of life of the natives. The establishment of a Spanish mission in Soledad had accelerated the native population of the area through disease and dispersal.Archaeological surveys have found 13 sites inhabited by Native Americans, 12 of which predate the establishment of the missions. One site is believed to be around 2000 years old.  The last Chalon had died out or left the area by 1810. From 1810 to 1865, when the first Anglo-American settlers arrived, the Pinnacle area was a forest without human use or habitation.
The summit was known as Palisade until the 1880s. The surrounding communities were visited by picnickers who explore the caves and camp. The first description of the Pinnacle Area appeared in 1881, describing the area of the balconies. Between 1889 and 1891, newspaper articles describing the excursions led to them being referred to as “Palisades” rather than “Peaks”. A post office was established in Bear Valley in 1894. The name of the post office was changed to “Pinnacles” in 1924.
Pinnacles National Park Geography
Pinnacles National Park is located about 40 miles or 64 km inland from the Pacific Ocean and 80 miles or 130 km south of the San Francisco Bay Area. The park is in the southern part of the Gabillon Range and is a part of the Coast Range of California. Elevations within its limits range from 824 to 3,304 feet at the peak of North Chalon Peak.
Pinnacles National Park Wildlife
Mammals and birds inhabiting the park include prairie falcons, coyotes, skunks, great horned owls, bobcats, California quail, raccoons, wild turkeys, gray foxes, golden eagles, and cougars. Native animals that have become locally extinct from central California include the tulle elk and pronghorn. Grizzlies and black bears were in this area until the end of the 19th century. Like many parks in central California, Pinnacles has had a problem with wild boars, which regularly disturb the landscape. Until the spring of 2006, the main part of the park was pig-free.
Thirteen species of bats have been documented in Pinnacles, and three more species are thought to be likely. The talus caves provide habitat and breeding habitat for bats. Pinnacles Park has more bees per unit area than are known anywhere else on Earth, with 400 species. Most of these bees are solitary bees that do not live in colonies like European bees, and most only live for three to four weeks.
Pitch a Tent At Pinnacles Campground
Peaceful, year-round camping can be found on the east side. You can reserve your spot and bring gear or park your camper—RV sites are available. Each campsite has a picnic table and fire ring, and many are surrounded by oak trees, which provide shade and privacy. Sleep under the stars and watch the birds chirping and deer from the nearby waterways.
The California condor is the largest bird in North America. Its wingspan is 9 and a half feet long. They live up to 60 years. These majestic creatures became an endangered species in the 1960s, and by the 1980s there were only 25 left in the world. Wild birds have been bred to avoid extinction. While hiking you can see the conductor walking.
The Campground Is Basic But There’s A Pool
Pinnacles Campground on the east side of the park is operated by an outside vendor. It offers RV spots, individual and group tent camping, and tent cabins with beds, but they are BOYB. Significantly, this campground has a swimming pool – quite unusual for campgrounds found in national parks. Restrooms with showers are located next to the pool, available to overnight campers and day-use visitors.
Showers are coin operated – 50 cents for 3 minutes. They looked pretty crappy, so I had little interest in using them. We had planned ahead and at the end of a hot day our RV tank had plenty of fresh water for cool, refreshing showers. The campground also has a ranger-staffed visitor center and a campground office with a small shop that provides basic supplies, snacks, drinks, ice, and souvenirs.
List of National Parks of The United States
Pinnacles National Park
Redwood National and State Parks
Kings Canyon National Park
Sequoia National Park
Joshua Tree National Park
Yosemite National Park
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Redwood National Park
Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks
Channel Islands National Park
Point Reyes National Seashore
Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
Muir Woods National Monument
Death Valley National Park
Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
Yosemite National Park
Humboldt Redwoods State Park
Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park
Wildwood State Park
How To Reach Pinnacles National Park
Take Hwy 101 South to the town of Soledad. Take Hwy 146 East. Be aware that the highway turns into a one lane road, drive with caution. Follow Hwy 146 for 14 miles into Pinnacles National Park. Although roads approach the park from the west through Soledad and from the east through empty lands south of Hollister, the roads do not connect in the park. Most of the developed areas are on the east side of the park.
Pinnacles National Park Map
Pinnacles National Park Information Video
- Cell service is not natively present in Pinnacles National Park.
- Wi-Fi is available for purchase at the campground.
- You can get some details about the park while offline.
- The summit volcanic structure evolved about 23 million years ago.
- This extension was designated as a national park in 2013.
- The summit gets its name from the huge, domed rock formations that seem to protrude from the earth.
- Pinnacles National Park is the result of an ancient volcanic eruption.
- It is home to chaparral, oak woodland and canyon landscape wildlife.
Yes. Pinnacles National Park offers unique activities such as cave exploration, California condor viewing, and rock climbing
Autumn and winter are also great times to visit.
The park is famous for the beauty and variety of its spring wild flowers.
Ideally, you would want to spend 2 days in the park if you have the time.
Swimming Pool Pinnacles is one of the only national parks to have a public swimming pool in it.
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