Pinnacles National Park
by Bay Nature Staff on July 08, 2012
This park is a wonder in spring: incredible wildflowers, warm days, remarkable geology, and a decent chance of seeing a California condor soaring overhead. Winter can bring wispy clouds weaving among the rocks and trees. Summer is brutal, so beware unless you like it hot.
The trails move in and out (and sometimes through!) tilted layers of volcanic lava called breccia, which create the park’s namesake pinnacles, which are great to look at, scramble over, and duck inside the “lean-to” caves that dot the park. Note that some of the trails — cut into solid rock back when people did such things — are steep and potentially treacherous in the rain.
Note that there’s no road all the way through the park, so you want to choose your approach carefully. The east side has the main visitor center and campgrounds. The west side is closer to Soledad and the wilderness areas around Big Sur.
Learn more about the park from our 2010 article Pining for the Pinnacles, by outdoorsman Paul McHugh. (Back then, the national park was still a national monument.)