Spend the Weekend Exploring Pinnacles National Park
- Family Time
- Photo Ops
- Something Different
Travelers looking to escape into nature need not look any further than Pinnacles National Park. This exciting getaway has impressive rock formations, diverse wildlife, and outstanding hiking trails. Anyone who needs a breath of fresh air will love this magnificent destination.
The park’s unique rock formations were formed by ancient volcanic flows, with the namesake pinnacles themselves being the remnants of a volcano. Over time, erosion created the dramatic scenery that you see today. Don’t forget to bring your camera!
Inside the park, you’ll find varied landscapes that include grasslands, caves, and rocky spires. The best way to explore these beautiful formations is by hiking. Pinnacles has over 30 miles of trails that provide an intimate view of the park. These hikes range from easy to advanced. An easy way to see some of the park’s spectacular Hain Wilderness is on the .9 mile Prewett Point Trail. Those who want to see Pinnacle’s famous talus caves can do the easy to moderate Balconies Cliffs-Cave Loop that weaves through talus passages. One of the most impressive hikes, if you’re up to the challenge, is Chalone Peak Trail, which reaches the highest point of the monument. Around the park, there are breathtaking views of the rock formations that make Pinnacles famous.
The park has two entrances – the west entrance near Soledad and the east entrance south of Hollister. The west entrance is convenient for people traveling from the 101 freeway and has more lodging options, while the east gate has the campground.
Check into your accommodations on Friday so that you can spend all day at the park on Saturday. Go hiking and explore Pinnacles on Saturday. On Sunday, take another short hike before heading home.
Things to Do
- Visit Bear Gulch and Balconies talus caves.
- Hike one of Pinnacle’s trails and enjoy the views.
- See the wildflowers bloom during spring.
- Go bird watching.
- Participate in a ranger program.
When to Go
Pinnacles can be very hot during the summer (bring lots of water), so visit during the fall, winter, and spring for cooler temperatures. If you want to see the wildflowers bloom, you should visit between March and May.
It costs $30 per vehicle to enter Pinnacles National Park, valid for up to one week. You can find inexpensive lodging near the west entrance, or you can camp on the east side. It costs $40 per night to camp in a tent, with more expensive options available if you don’t want to rough it. For camping you need to make a reservation first.