Where is the best place to see a California condor at Pinnacles?
There are currently 27 free-flying adult and juvenile condors managed by Pinnacles National Park. They have commingled with the 35 condors in the Big Sur flock and have effectively become one central California flock. Condors do not migrate and are observed in this area year round. They move frequently within their expanding territory, so they may not always be seen inside the park.
Pinnacles' condors have now ranged as far as Livermore to the north, Santa Barbara County to the south, and west to the Big Sur coast.
If you are going to visit Pinnacles and you hope to see a condor, one of the most likely viewing areas is the High Peaks in the early morning or early evening. The High Peaks can be reached from either entrance to the park, but keep in mind that hiking to the High Peaks is strenuous. Please carry and drink plenty of water, wear layered clothing, and be prepared for temperature extremes.
Another location that the condors spend time around is the ridge just southeast of the campground. Condors are often observed soaring on the morning thermals along the ridge and coming in to roost on their favorite trees in the evenings. Two spotting scopes have been placed in the Campground (on the Bench Trail near Pinnacles Visitor Center) that may help you get a closer look at these magnificent birds.
Remember that our condors are free-flying, which means there is no guarantee you will see one on a given day at a given time.
Please remember to stay out of areas that are marked as closed to the public to protect the condors other wildlife.
How can I tell the difference between a condor and a turkey vulture?
California condors and turkey vultures have a few key differences besides their size. If you see a bird in flight, look for the lighter area on the underside of the wings to help determine the species.