Pinnacles National Park Guide: Caves, High Peaks and Condors

Pinnacles National Park is the USA's newest national park, created in late 2013. This park is an amazing place to explore due to the fact that it still flies under the radar with insanely popular places like Yosemite and Sequoia nearby. It is worth a day of exploration though as it has two awesome caves and a high peaks trail that is one of my favorite spots to explore in Central California. Here are some of the best places to see while in the park

Caves

Both of the caves in this park were created by cave-ins and not by the normal lava flow that you expect to see. They are really fun to explore as they have massive boulders to climb over and light peaking into the darkness due to the uneven ceilings. Here are the two main caves.

Bear Gulch Cave

Balconies Cave

High Peaks Trail

The High Peaks Trail can be hiked multiple ways in the park based on what side you come in. My favorite way to do it is to pair it with the Bear Gulch Cave and to make a 6-mile loop out of it. Read about it by clicking the image below.

Other Attractions

There are a few more stops to see on the East side, which include a viewpoint for the High Peaks and the visitors center. The High Peaks Viewing area lets you look through a telescope to see the High Peaks in the distance. The visitors center is staffed with docents that can tell you where to explore as well as food and maps.

Visitors Center

High Peaks Viewpoint

Bear Gulch Reservoir

Bacon Ranch

Stargazing

Pinnacles National Park is relatively remote, which gives you the option of seeing some great dark skies. This photo was taking from right outside of my tent and it shows how many stars are visible.

Where to Stay

There is only one spot in the park that you can stay and that is the campsites on the East side of the park. If you are visiting from the West, the closest town to stay in would be the town of Soledad.

Camping in Pinnacles National Park

FAQ

Where do I get a map?
You will receive a map and a small newspaper with information on the park when you enter. The park is not that big, so this should be more than enough for most people

How much does it cost?
Current price is $15 but I always spring for the year pass to all the National Parks which is $80.

How can I avoid the crowds?
Pinnacles National Park is not visited like the other parks in California. It will still be busy on holiday weekends, but if you go during the week or off times then you shouldn't deal with many people. Also, summer is not a good time to go to the park because it is so hot, so I would recommend spring or fall.

Where can I eat in the park?
There are no restaurants in the park, but the visitors center on the East side has gas station type food that you can purchase if you are hungry.

Where can I see Condors?
The condors normally hang out near the backside of the High Peaks Trail, looking down into Condor Gulch. I saw a half dozen when I was there while hiking this trail.

Video

If you want to see highlights of this park via video, here is a video I made on how to explore the park in 24 hours.



Here is a video I made on the High Peaks Trail as well.

Now it is your turn, what did I leave off this list that you love exploring in Pinnacles National Park? Be sure to leave them in the comments so that others can find them as well.

Interested in supporting this blog?

This blog is simply a hobby and labor of love for me. If you have enjoyed the posts consider sharing it with your friends. I want as many people as possible to explore this state and you can help by letting them know about all of the great spots!

Subscribe to the mailing list for a weekly posts recap!

About JoshMc

Thanks for checking out the blog, I am happy to be sharing my adventures with you! You can get to know me by reading my about me, which includes a video and additional information on the site, myself and my full disclosure. Also, follow along on Twitter here or read all of my posts on this blog here.

  • Jody

    That looks SO cool! Thanks for the great video!

    • No problem, thanks for the comment!

  • Judy Carolyn Kopittke

    that was fantastic!

    • Glad the guide was helpful!

  • Andreas

    Hi Josh,
    how long do you think it takes more or less to do the High Peaks Trail. Of course it depends on walking speed and amount of stops but an estimate would be helpful 🙂
    Thanks

    • It took me about 4 hours to do it since it was about 6 miles and I took a lot of photos and videos along the way.

  • Cheryl

    I hear Oct maybe the big sur may open we are supposed to be there 1st week in Nov should I plan around it?

    • It’s hard to guess right now. I would plan some stops around it and watch the news sites to see if it will be open when it gets closer. Sorry I wasn’t more help!