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Pinnacles National Monument

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General Information

Pinnacles National Monument
Copyright: - US National Park Service
Pinnacles National Monument
Description - Pinnacles National Monument was set aside early in the Twentieth century because of the spire like rock formations in the area. These volcanic formations reach heights of 500 to 1,200 feet and were formed nearly 23 million years ago. What makes these formations unique is that they lie on the western side of the San Andreas Fault Zone and have been moving northward since they reached the earth's surface. The rest of this ancient volcanic formation lies almost 200 miles to the south on the eastern side of the fault.

In more recent years the monument has been heeded because of the chaparral ecosystem that thrives within it's boundaries. This unique plant and animal community once covered a significant portion of California and is rapidly disappearing with development. The plants of the chaparral adapted to the changing seasons of the region. They literally are rejuvenated by fire and have intense growing seasons during the wet winter and spring seasons.

Recreation - The park facilities at Pinnacles include a visitor center, information centers, trails and picnic areas. The monument is a day-use area and camping is not permitted within its boundaries. Many visitors come to the site for hiking. There are 30 miles of trails within the park that take visitors around and through the volcanic formations and interesting flora. Two sets of caves lie within the boundaries of Pinnacles National Monument. Visitors are welcome to enjoy a spelunking adventure. Technical rock climbing is also popular on the volcanic formations of Pinnacles. If this is the adventure you seek, make sure you are properly prepared and trained.

Climate - The climate in central California is mild throughout the year with winter being the wettest season. Spring and fall are the most popular times to visit the monument, with the most pleasant weather conditions. During the spring months, late March through May, the wild flowers bloom. The summer months bring hot, dry conditions with daytime temperatures reaching a 100 degrees F during July and August.

Location - Pinnacles is located between Highways 101 and 25 south of Salinas, California. The western and eastern sides of the park are not connected by road. There is a 70 mile drive to reach the eastern side of the park from the western side and vice versa.

Park headquarters and Bear Gulch Visitor Center are located on the eastern side of the monument and accessible via Highways 25 and 146. The Chaparral Ranger Station lies on the western side of the monument and can be reached from Highway 146 in Soledad. This road is steep and narrow and not recommended for motor homes and trailers.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
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Filed By: Nancy Fox (San Francisco, CA)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: No. of people I saw? I have visited the Pinnacles dozens of times since the late 1980s. Sometimes I see no one on the trails (February) and sometimes quite a few people (spring). I have brought more than 10 people to the Pinnacles over the years. I never get tired of visiting. I love all of the trails and I love the Pinnacles in all of the seasons.

More Information

Contact Information:
Pinnacles National Monument, 5000 Hwy. 146 , Paicines, CA, 95043, Phone: 408-389-4485, Fax: 831-389-4489

Additional Information:
California National Forests & Parks - California's National Parks, Monuments and Forests cover lands from the Pacific Ocean to the crest of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Central Coast Region - The Central Coast Region covers a tranquil expanse between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Dramatic seascapes and coastal resorts, together with the pastoral atmosphere of its inland agricultural communities, make this region an idyllic destination.
Northern California -
San Luis Obispo Area - This community lies midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. It is surrounded by beautiful natural scenery from the rocky coast to the Sierra Madre Mountains.

Pinnacles National Monument - Official agency website


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