Pinnacles National Park is the newest national park in the US. It was designated as a national park in 2013. Located in between the 5 and 101, the park is about 4.5 hrs north of LA and has two entrances, the west and the east. Unfortunately, there is no road in the park to connect both entrances. So if you want to see both sides, you need to drive about 1hr through King City to get from one entrance to the other. At the same time, the park is small enough to see in a day. We hiked 3 trails: Bear Gulch Cave trail and Condor Gulch trail on the east side and Balconies Cave Trail on the west.
Both cave trails were worth it – not your typical nicely paved trails through the caves. The path meanders in between giant volcanic rocks. Huge boulders get in your way as you try to make your way in pitch darkness (flashlights required). In some places, you need to get on all your fours to be able to pass under some rocks.
Other than the bat caves, Pinnacles is also known for rock climbing. It has very impressive rock formations soaring tens of feet straight up from the ground.
The rocks and trees seem to be painted in vibrant colors of orange, yellow and green because of the lichen and moss growing in great abundance in the park.
Because of its proximity to San Francisco, the park was surprisingly crowded. We had to take the shuttle to the trailheads on the east side. It was a little inconvenient, but fortunately it all worked out. The crowds disappeared in the evening, it felt like we had the park to ourselves.
There is nothing really extraordinary about this park, but it was worth a visit 🙂