Located in a central Californian region home to huge meadows, green farmlands and endlessly, gently rolling hills, the rock formations and gorges of Pinnacles National Park appear as if out of nowhere. And they kind of did arrive there uninvited, not belonging there at all.
California’s Pinnacles National Park protects an ancient part of the Gabilan Mountains, east of the Salinas Valley. Its landscape consists of the eons-old remains of a volcanic field. The strange thing is that only two-third of that ancient volcano are found in this area. The other third lies 195 miles to the southeast. This geologic and geographic discrepancy is explained by the San Andreas Fault. Running just east of Pinnacles National Park, so that it is slowly pulling California apart. The entire volcano was once located hundreds of miles to the south, near what is now Los Angeles.
Pinnacles National Park, Hidden Gem in Central California
This fault action makes Pinnacles National Park a place of interest. This is not only for people, but also for many animal and plant species. Characterized by talus caves, created by boulders that fell into narrow gorges and got stuck, tall rock spires, mountain springs and streams, this is a unique landscape in a large agricultural region.
Designated as a National Monument by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908, Pinnacles became a national park in 2013, making it the youngest of all national parks in the United States.
Its relatively nearby neighbors—Yosemite, Sequoia and Death Valley—may attract many more visitors, but Pinnacles National Park is definitely worth visiting as well. This pleasant and laidback park can be explored in great detail in just one day, but many people choose to spend a few nights at its friendly campground.
The park offers many recreational opportunities. there’s plenty for you to do here, from hiking the network of trails and enjoying the unspoiled wilderness and unusual landscapes to rock climbing, exploring caves, picnicking along creeks and admiring an unpolluted night sky. Popular hiking trails—the ones you should focus on—are the High Peaks Trail and Bear Gulch Cave Trail. The park lies about two hours south of San Francisco (Airport) and is easily reached on a nice country road.
Pinnacles National Park in Photos