• Pinnacles National Park - Paicines, California

      Photo by Megan Edwards
      Rising out of the chaparral-covered Gabilan Mountains, east of central California's Salinas Valley, are the spectacular remains of an ancient volcano field. Massive monoliths, spires, sheer-walled canyons and talus passages define millions of years of erosion, faulting and tectonic plate movement. It was named a National Monument in 1908, but became a national park in 2013. Work is underway to provide more infrastructure to the park. The park sits atop the San Andreas Fault zone. This park is best experienced on foot, as most of the caves and trails to the secluded canyons are found away from the two roads in the park. The park is open year-round, the busiest periods are mid-February to early June. Pinnacles is an excellent place to watch raptors and bats.

      If you go:
      California State Highway 146 does not connect through the park. There is an eastern section and a western section. There is a campground at the eastern edge, the rest of the park is day-use only. The Bear Gulch Day Use area is a good place to start hikes.


      5000 California State Route 146
      Paicines, California 95043 USA

      Comments 4 Comments
      1. Harry Kline's Avatar
        Harry Kline -

        I visited Pinnacles back in the 90's when my daughter was teaching at DLI in Monterey. Getting there was half the fun; I recall that the last part was then a dirt road through an abandoned vineyard. Without a flashlight, you were lost in the dark crevasses and caves. What a fun place, and I'm pleased that it finally got status as a national park. It certainly is a neat place to go.
      1. Kinless's Avatar
        Kinless -
        We also stopped by this place in Oct 2011, shortly before it gained National Park status. We visited the eastern side and were fortunate enough to be there when the bats were gone and the entire cave was open (they say March and October are your best chances for that). The shortest hike we could find was 1.8 miles round-trip (which included traversing through the caves). It's a very strenuous but rewarding workout.
      1. Mark Sedenquist's Avatar
        Mark Sedenquist -
        My brother, who lived in Aptos, rides down here often on his motorcycle. When we stopped by in early October, it wasn't very busy -- Wish we had time to take one of the walks to the caves, but I needed to be in LA later that night.

        It is a cool place!

      1. AZBuck's Avatar
        AZBuck -
        It's worth pointing out that while there are two entrances to the park, from Soledad to the west via CA-146 and from Pinnacles to the east also via CA-146, the two entrances are not connected and CA-146 is not continuous through the park.

        On the other hand, if you're driving the PCH consider using (Monterey) County Road G16 from Carmel through Carmel Valley and Sycamore Flat to G17 and Soledad as a good scenic driving route.