How should I prepare for a trip to Pinnacles? First, know the road through the park, Highway 146, does not connect the east and west sides of Pinnacles. The East side of the park is located off highway 25, about 30 miles from Hollister (to the north) and King City (to the south). Please make sure your car has enough gas to travel to and from the park. The West side of Pinnacles is found 12 miles east of the town of Soledad, off of highway 101. Soledad also provides services such as gas, restaurants and groceries. Both entrances to the monument are located on Highway 146, which is obstructed within the park boundary by the Pinnacles rock formations.
Should I come to the East side or West side of Pinnacles?
You can see many geologic features, as well as take advantage of several hiking and rock climbing opportunities from either side of the park. The Pinnacles Visitor Center, Bear Gulch Nature Center, Park Headquarters, the Pinnacles Campground, along with the Bear Gulch Cave and Reservoir are located on the East side. The West Visitor Contact Station is on the West side. Be aware that Highway 146 on either side of the monument is a narrow and winding road. In fact, the West side of the park's stretch of Highway 146 may not be suitable for large RV's, or buses. Please drive carefully as you enter and leave Pinnacles National Park.
What can I see from my car?
Pinnacles National Park is primarily a hiking park. If you are short on time or have difficulty walking on uneven terrain for even short distances, you may opt to visit the West side of Pinnacles where you can get an easy view of the Pinnacles' High Peaks from the Chaparral trail head parking area.
Can I bring my pet?
Pets are allowed in paved areas of the park, including parking lots, picnic areas, and the campground, but are prohibited on all hiking trails. Pets must be on a 6-foot leash and be attended to at all times. Leaving your pet in the car while you hike is harmful to your pets well-being and may result in a citation. Because Pinnacles National Park is a protected habitat for many sensitive and even endangered plants and animals, pets are prohibited on all hiking trails.
What is the status of the Caves?
There are two talus caves at the monument. On the East side of Pinnacles heading up the Moses Spring Trail, the Bear Gulch cave is home to a sensitive colony of Townsend's Big-Eared Bats. The bats are listed as a species of special concern, and they use the cave as a maternal sanctuary in the summer and as a place to hibernate in the winter. The Balconies cave is located on the Old Pinn Trail, accessible from the East side and West side of the park. There is more parking available from the Chaparral trail head on the West side of the park. Please remember your flashlights for which ever cave you plan to explore. Click on Cave Information for open/closure status.
What are the Pinnacles? The Pinnacles are rocky spires that remain from an ancient volcanic field. Millions of years worth of volcanic activity, tectonic plate movement, and erosive forces have created the rugged landscape we see today.
When is the peak of the wildflower season?
The best months to see wildflowers are March, April, and May. Weekends during this period are usually the busiest. It is advised to plan for a weekday trip when visitation is lower.
What is the green rock found around the park?
The green rock is pumice lapilli tuff. With a probable overall rhyolite composition, the lapilli was analyzed and found to contain glauconite, a green mineral that is known to occur in marine environments where sediment is deposited along a continental shelf.
For more information, call (831) 389-4485 or send us an e-mail.