Pinnacles National Park
Formed over 23 million years ago by volcanic eruptions, lava flows and landslides, Pinnacles officially became America’s newest National Park in January 2013. The resulting 30 mile-wide volcanic ‘field of fire’ was split in half by the San Andreas Fault and over millions of years, the western portion moved over 185 miles north while the breathtaking rock formations and towering spires were afflicted by water, weather and chemical erosion. Today, Pinnacles National Park is a serene ecosystem that welcomes 250,000 visitors worldwide to hike, rock climb, camp and immerse themselves in the beauty of this once volatile landscape.
Just 80 miles southeast of San Jose, Pinnacles is within a fairly short drive of the Silicon Valley. It also serves as one of four sites where the captive-bred California Condor, an endangered species, are released into the wild. 14 of the 24 bat species in California along with a myriad of other animals including coyotes, black-tailed deer, tarantulas, bobcats, mountain lions and quail as well as snakes, lizards and 400 species of bees, call Pinnacles home. Because of it’s varied habitats consisting of grasslands, chaparral and woodlands in addition to its location on the migratory Pacific Flyway, Pinnacles offers bird enthusiasts an incredible opportunity to observe, study and appreciate over 180 species of birds.
Within a 7-day time period in 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt established Pinnacles as a National Monument along with Muir Woods and the Grand Canyon. The awe-inspiring rock formations, wondrous cave systems and primordial history of the park make it a unique destination. Thanks to ancient tectonic plate movement, Pinnacles is separated into two distinct sections, the East and the West Divisions, with no connecting road between the two areas. The West entrance is closest to Mountain View, Sunnyvale and other cities in the Silicon Valley. The Park offers truly amazing geologic creations as well as over 32 miles of moderate to strenuous hiking trails.
Pinnacles National Park, with its unique geology, multitude of habitats and diverse animal life, is one of California’s many awe-inspiring treasures. A stone’s throw away from the heart of the Silicon Valley, it is the perfect weekend escape for those who enjoy immersing themselves in nature.
The park website offers detailed information on hours, directions and planning your visit.