Discover Pinnacles National Park

Welcome to Pinnacles National Park, a captivating gem of California’s diverse landscape. Known for its rugged beauty and unique geological formations, Pinnacles offers an unparalleled outdoor experience for adventurers of all kinds.

Situated in the Gabilan Mountains, Pinnacles is renowned for its towering rock spires, lush forests, and intricate cave networks. Hikers can traverse over 30 miles of trails, ranging from leisurely strolls to challenging climbs, all while taking in breathtaking vistas of the surrounding wilderness. Keep an eye out for the park’s resident wildlife, including the majestic California condor, bobcats, and numerous bird species.

As night descends, Pinnacles transforms into a haven for stargazers, offering some of the clearest and darkest skies in California. With minimal light pollution, visitors can marvel at the Milky Way and countless stars, making for an unforgettable celestial experience. Whether you’re seeking adventure on the trails, wildlife encounters, or a celestial spectacle, Pinnacles National Park promises an unforgettable journey into the heart of nature.


Top 3 Facts About Pinnacles National Park


Unique Geology

Pinnacles National Park features stunning rock formations formed by volcanic activity over 23 million years ago. These formations, known as “pinnacles,” tower up to 1,200 feet above the surrounding landscape.


Cave Systems

The park boasts more than 30 miles of hiking trails, including paths that wind through intricate cave networks. The Bear Gulch and Balconies Cave systems offer adventurous explorers a chance to delve into the park’s subterranean wonders.


Stargazing Paradise

With its remote location away from urban light pollution, Pinnacles offers unparalleled stargazing opportunities. On clear nights, visitors can witness up to 6,000 stars in the sky, along with the Milky Way stretching across the horizon.

Camping and transportation in Pinnacles National Park

info_iconBackcountry camping permits required for wilderness camping opportunities.

How to Get to Pinnacles National Park

Getting to Pinnacles National Park in California is relatively straightforward, but it largely depends on your starting point. Here are a few common methods of transportation:

  • By Car: The most common way to reach Pinnacles is by car. The park is accessible via two entrances: the East Entrance and the West Entrance. From the east, take Highway 25, and from the west, take Highway 146. These highways connect to major routes like US-101 and CA-101, making it easy to access the park from various locations in California.
  • From Nearby Cities: Pinnacles National Park is located approximately 80 miles south of San Jose and 130 miles southeast of San Francisco. If you’re traveling from one of these cities, you can drive south on US-101 to reach the park’s east entrance or take CA-146 east from Soledad to reach the west entrance.
  • Air Travel: If you’re coming from farther away, you can fly into major airports like San Francisco International Airport (SFO) or Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC) and then rent a car to drive to Pinnacles National Park.

Places to Stay Near Pinnacles National Park

There are several options for camping near Pinnacles National Park, offering various amenities and experiences. Here are a few popular choices:

  • Pinnacles National Park Campgrounds: The park itself offers two campgrounds: Pinnacles Campground and the more remote and primitive sites at the Pinnacles National Park Eastside Campground. Pinnacles Campground has facilities such as restrooms, showers, and water spigots. Reservations are highly recommended, especially during peak seasons.
  • RV Parks and Campgrounds: There are several RV parks and campgrounds located within driving distance of Pinnacles National Park. Examples include Hollister Hills State Vehicular Recreation Area, Casa de Fruta RV Park, and San Benito Thousand Trails RV Resort. These sites typically offer RV hookups, amenities, and sometimes cabins or tent sites.
  • Private Campgrounds: There are private campgrounds and resorts in the surrounding area, such as Paicines Ranch and Bar SZ Ranch. These sites often offer a range of amenities and activities, including guided tours, horseback riding, and farm experiences.
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Best Time to Go to Pinnacles National Park



Summer brings warmer temperatures to Pinnacles National Park, making it an excellent time for camping and outdoor activities. Hikers can venture out early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the midday heat while exploring trails like the Condor Gulch and Moses Spring Loop. Summer evenings offer fantastic stargazing opportunities due to the clear skies and longer daylight hours. Visitors can attend ranger-led astronomy programs or simply lay out a blanket and marvel at the Milky Way overhead.



Winter in Pinnacles National Park is mild compared to other parts of the country, making it a great time for outdoor adventures. Hiking trails are less crowded, offering solitude and tranquility amid the park’s stunning landscapes. Winter rains bring lush greenery to the park, enhancing the beauty of its rock formations and valleys. While some areas may experience temporary closures due to inclement weather, winter is still a fantastic time for hiking, birdwatching, and exploring the park’s caves. Visitors should come prepared with layers and be mindful of changing weather conditions.



Spring is an ideal time to visit Pinnacles National Park. The weather is mild, with comfortable temperatures perfect for hiking and exploring the park’s diverse landscapes. During this season, wildflowers bloom across the hillsides, painting the park in vibrant hues. Hikers can enjoy the abundance of wildflowers along trails like the Bear Gulch and High Peaks Loop, while birdwatchers may spot migratory birds returning to the park. Additionally, springtime is a great opportunity to explore the park’s cave systems, such as Bear Gulch Cave and Balconies Cave, when seasonal closures are lifted.

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Must-See Attractions

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High Peaks

The High Peaks area of Pinnacles National Park features dramatic rock formations, towering spires, and panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Hiking trails like the High Peaks Trail and Condor Gulch Trail offer opportunities to explore this rugged terrain and experience the park’s iconic vistas.

Bear Gulch Cave

This fascinating cave system is a highlight of the park, featuring narrow passages, towering boulders, and seasonal waterfalls. The Bear Gulch Cave Trail takes visitors through this enchanting labyrinth, offering a unique underground adventure.

California Condor Lookout

Pinnacles National Park is home to one of the largest populations of California condors in the wild. The park offers several viewpoints and overlooks where visitors can spot these majestic birds soaring through the sky, including the Condor Gulch and High Peaks areas.

Helpful Tips: Making the Most of Your Adventure to Pinnacles National Park

Plan Ahead

Plan Ahead

Check the park’s website for the latest information on trail conditions, closures, and any alerts or advisories before you go. Consider making campground reservations in advance, especially during peak seasons.

Pack Appropriately

Wear Appropriate Footwear

Trails in Pinnacles National Park can be rocky and uneven, so wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes with good traction for hiking. Proper footwear will help prevent slips and falls, especially on steep or rocky terrain.

Respect Wildlife

Respect Wildlife

Pinnacles is home to a variety of wildlife, including California condors, rattlesnakes, and mountain lions. Keep a safe distance from wildlife and never approach or feed them. Be aware of your surroundings and stay on designated trails.

Stay Informed

Stay Hydrated

Pinnacles can get hot, especially during the summer months, so be sure to bring plenty of water with you on your hikes. Consider carrying a hydration pack or water bottles to stay hydrated throughout the day.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Pinnacles National Park

Pinnacles National Park is renowned for its dramatic rock formations, including towering spires and unique geological features formed by volcanic activity over millions of years.

Yes, Pinnacles National Park offers camping facilities at Pinnacles Campground and the more primitive sites at the Pinnacles National Park Eastside Campground. Reservations are highly recommended, especially during peak seasons.

Visitors to Pinnacles can enjoy a variety of activities, including hiking, rock climbing, birdwatching, wildlife viewing, cave exploring, stargazing, and photography.

The best time to visit Pinnacles National Park is during the spring and fall when temperatures are mild, wildflowers are in bloom, and wildlife activity is high. Summer can be hot, and winter may bring occasional rain and cooler temperatures.

Yes, there is an entrance fee to access Pinnacles National Park. The fee varies depending on the type of pass you have, such as the America the Beautiful Pass, or if you’re entering by foot, bicycle, or vehicle.

Yes, pets are allowed in certain areas of the park, including campgrounds, parking areas, and paved roads, but they must be kept on a leash at all times. Pets are not permitted on trails or in wilderness areas.

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