Temporary Operational Guidelines

Pinnacles National Park is beginning to increase recreational access to day-use visitation by foot or bicycle.

Paicines, CA – Following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local public health authorities, Pinnacles National Park is increasing recreational access for visitors. The National Park Service (NPS) is working servicewide with federal, state, and local public health authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and using a phased approach to increase access on a park-by-park basis.

Beginning May 22, Pinnacles National Park will reopen access to:

  • Day-use visitor entry by foot or bicycle; Foot and bicycle day-use traffic will be permitted to access the park.

In addition, entry fees are waived, and the following spaces continue to be available:

  • The campground will remain open, previous use restrictions will remain.
  • Park trails will continue to be accessible from the campground by foot or bicycle.

With public health in mind, the following facilities remain closed at this time:

  • Vehicle access for campers beyond the campground will remain prohibited.
  • Previous trail closures, including the caves and High Peaks, remain closed.
  • Nature Centers and Visitor Centers will remain closed.
  • Shuttles will remain non-operational.

The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners continues to be paramount. At Pinnacles National Park, our operational approach will be to examine each facility function and service provided to ensure those operations comply with current public health guidance and will be regularly monitored. We continue to work closely with the NPS Office of Public Health using CDC guidance to ensure public and workspaces are safe and clean for visitors, employees, partners, and volunteers. While these areas are accessible for visitors, a return to full operations will continue to be phased and services may be limited. When recreating, the public should follow local area health orders, practice Leave No Trace principles, avoid crowding and avoid high-risk outdoor activities.

The CDC has offered guidance to help people recreating in parks and open spaces prevent the spread of infectious diseases. We will continue to monitor all park functions to ensure that visitors adhere to CDC guidance for mitigating risks associated with the transmission of COVID-19, and take any additional steps necessary to protect public health.

Frequently Asked Questions

Both entrances to the park are closed to vehicles unless you are camping in the campground located on the East side of the park. The East entrance is located on Highway 25. The closest town with services is Hollister. You are permitted to enter the park from either side on bikes or by foot.
No vehicle parking is available at the park, and parking along roadsides outside the park is unsafe and subject to ticketing. The park remains closed to vehicles, and visitors are encouraged to coordinate drop-offs or ride-shares. Some limited private parking outside park boundaries may or may not be available.
Yes, if you have a mobility impairment and have a disability placard you can still enter the park in a vehicle whether you are camping or not. You will still have access to all the public parking areas within the park. The placard must be visible on your car at all times. You must enter the park between the hours of 8:00am and 6:00pm.
On the East side of the park visitors should expect a 2 mile hike to get to the Visitor Center and a further 3 mile hike to get to the Bear Gulch day use area and Old Pinnacles trailhead (note: this distance is one-way only).

On the West side of the park visitors must walk half a mile to get to the West Side Contact Station and another 2.25 miles to get to the Chaparral parking area (note: this distance is one-way only).
The East Side Visitor Center, West Side Contact Station, and Bear Gulch Nature Center are closed until further notice.

The road past the campground will be closed until further notice. There will be no shuttle service available. To access the Bear Gulch day use area and Old Pinnacles trailhead you can hike the Bench trail (about 3 miles each way). You can also ride a bike on paved roads but riding bikes on trails is prohibited.
The campground store is open on a limited schedule. Please call (831) 200-1722 for more information.

All restrooms in the park are open but will be closed more frequently for cleaning. The pit toilet at Scout's Peak is closed.
Due to the confined nature of some areas in the park, the following trails are closed until further notice:

- The Bear Gulch caves
- The Balconies caves
- The Steep & Narrow section of the High Peaks trail
- The Moses Spring Trail to the Reservoir
There are still many trails to explore and hike in the park:

- The Reservoir can still be accessed via the High Peaks trail and the Rim trail
- The High Peaks loop can be completed by hiking the Tunnel trail instead of the Steep & Narrows
- You can access the Bear Gulch day use area and the Old Pinnacles trailhead from the campground by hiking the Bench trail (3 miles each way)
- You can access the South Wilderness trail via the Bench trail
- You can access the North Wilderness trail via the Old Pinnacles trail
- You can hike around the Balconies caves by taking the Balconies cliffs trail
- You can reach South Chalone peak and North Chalone peak from the Reservoir


Due to the confined nature of the caves, both the Bear Gulch caves and Balconies caves are closed until further notice.
Entrance to the park for day-hiking is only allowed for people entering on foot or on bicycles. Pinnacles is currently only open to vehicular access for people with campground reservations. You must have an existing reservation to enter the park in a car. If you have a disabled placard you will still be allowed to enter the car in a vehicle.
The campground is still open to people with camping reservations. No walk-ups are available. You can make a reservation online at www.recreation.gov. You must have a copy of the reservation (either on paper or on a mobile device) to show the ranger on duty at the entrance. You can only enter the park between the hours of 8:00 am and 6:00 pm.

*If your group plans to arrive separately each party must have a copy of the registration confirmation to show the ranger.
Please check all shelter-in-place orders for your state/county as well as any orders for counties you will be passing through on your way to the park for guidance.
We will not be collecting fees for entry into the park until further notice. Campground reservations must be made online and paid before entering the park.

People who choose to visit Pinnacles National Park during this pandemic are encouraged to adhere to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local public health authorities to protect visitors and employees. As services are limited, the NPS urges visitors to continue to practice Leave No Trace principles, including pack-in and pack-out, to keep outdoor spaces safe and healthy.


Updates about NPS operations will be posted on www.nps.gov/coronavirus. Please check with individual parks for specific details about park operations.
 

Last updated: May 24, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

5000 Highway 146
Paicines, CA 95043

Phone:

(831) 389-4486
To contact the Pinnacles Campground, please call (831) 200-1722.

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