Hidden just East of the Salinas Valley, Pinnacles National Park is home to large stone slabs (pinnacles) that puncture the landscape. It is home to a wide array of animals including bats, bobcats, and even the endangered California Condor. The park gets its name from the innumerable amount of pinnacles that occupy the landscape.
The area we know today as Pinnacles National Park first began as a picnicking area around 1865. It was known as the “Palisades” until the name began to shift during the 1890’s when newspapers began to refer to it as the pinnacles. In 1908, during the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, Pinnacles National Monument was established. It remained a monument until 2013, when it officially became a national park.
One of the most attractive sites of the park is the High Peaks trail. This loop trail is about four miles at the least, but can branch off to many other trails, including the cave trails and the reservoir trail. As the name implies, the trail travels along several peaks. Almost all of these are a prime location to witness the enormous expanse of the Salinas Valley.
Because of the 360 degree field of vision from these peaks, both the sunrise and sunset are visible. The 24 hour operation of the park in tandem with these views can equate to a fantastic night hike, including emerging twilight exposing the beauty of the morning fog and a silhouette of the neighboring mountain ranges.
The massive structures that populate the park formed after millennia of plate tectonics and volcanic activity along the San Andreas Fault. They actually originated 195 miles South, near Los Angeles, California. The original volcano that created the structure, Pinnacles Volcano, split into two volcanoes: Pinnacles Volcano and Neenach Volcano. After about 23 million years, Pinnacles Volcano found its way to the Salinas Valley, but Neenach Volcano remained near Los Angeles. Both are now extinct.
Offering tall geological marvels that formed over millions of years and the sights that can be seen from them, Pinnacles National Park’s magnificence challenges that of the rest of the national parks.