Pinnacles became the latest addition to the collection with an change in status from National Monument, which it had been known as since 1908. The originally protected 2,080 acre area was gradually expanded to the current 26,606 acres. California’s ninth National Park is located about 80 miles southeast of San Francisco in the Gabilan mountain range near the San Andreas Fault. The signature feature is the eroded leftovers of an extinct volcano that last erupted 23 million years ago. The rocks have been carried nearly 200 miles from their original location by movement along the fault, and were slowly eroded into the pointed formations, caves and valleys seen today.
There are over 30 miles of hiking trails and a campground within Pinnacles’ boundaries. Rock climbing is especially popular in the park due to the variety and challenge of the rock formations. One interesting quirk is that while the park has an entrance on both its east and west sides, there is no through road. The only way to get from one side to the other is to hike or drive 90 minutes around.
Also, this Monday in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. day, all National Park Service sites will be waiving entrance fees. Here’s the list of all 2013’s free days. Enjoy!