Pinnacles National Monument

Overview

Rising out of the chaparral-covered Gabilan Mountains, east of central California's Salinas Valley, are the spectacular remains of an ancient volcano. Massive monoliths, spires, sheer-walled canyons and talus passages define millions of years of erosion, faulting and tectonic plate movement. Within the monument's boundaries lie 24,000-acres of diverse wildlands. The monument is renowned for the beauty and variety of its spring wildflowers. A rich diversity of wildlife can be observed throughout the year. The rock formations of Pinnacles National Monument divide the park into East and West Districts which are connected by trails, but not by a vehicle road. More than 30-miles of trails access geological formations, spectacular vistas and wildland communities. The Pinnacles' rock formations are a popular destination to challenge technical climbers. Pinnacles is a day-use park, with occasional full moon hikes and dark sky astronomical observations led by ranger-interpreters. Come enjoy this diverse park with many outdoor activities.

Map

Seasonality / Weather

Unlike many national parks, Pinnacles National Monument is most popular in the spring and fall. During the spring, high temperatures are usually in the 60s and 70s, though nights can be chilly, with lows in the 30s and 40s. Fall temperatures are similar. If you do come in the summer, please be prepared for highs in the 100s. Temperatures can swing as much as 60 degrees during the day, and cool mornings can turn into extremely hot days. Plan short hikes in the mornings or evenings, wear loose-fitting, light colored clothing, and above all, carry and drink plenty of water. You can also avoid the hot summer days by hiking in the full moon at night.

Directions

Driving: 

Pinnacles National Monument has two entrances: east and west. The west entrance can be reached via Highway 101 near the town of Soledad, then east along Highway 146 to the Chaparral area. The east entrance is reached via Highway 25, south of the city of Hollister and north of the town of King City, then west on Highway 146. The entrances are NOT connected by a road. It is not possible to drive through the Monument from one side to the other. If you're not sure which side of the monument to visit, keep in mind that there is a variety of trails that start from either side. If you'd like to visit a cave, you'll probably want to go the west side to take the Balconies Cave Loop, which is two miles round trip. If you'd like to get views of the High Peaks without leaving your car, you can see the rock formations from the west parking area. The road to the west side of the monument is winding and narrow, so if you're traveling in an RV, you'll probably want to enter the monument from the east.