Pinnacles National Park

Pinnacles National Park is located in the state of California in the United States. The park is comprised of 26,606 acres of land that was once inhabited by Native American tribes including the Ohlone people. When Spanish explorers arrived in the area, they brought diseases that nearly wiped out all of the Ohlone people, leaving the area uninhabited until Anglo-Americans arrived in 1865. By the 1880’s, visitors like picnickers and explorers began moving into the area, with the first recording of such human interaction occurring in 1881, when visitors described the Balconies area. At that time, the area was known as the Palisades and it was not until the 1890’s that the public began calling it the Pinnacles.

The establishment of Pinnacles National Park began in 1891, when Schuyler Hain moved into the area from Michigan with his parents. Hain’s cousin brought one of his Stanford University professors Dr. Gilbert into the area in 1893, who inspired Hain to bring the Pinnacles to national attention. Hain begin holding public tours of the area shortly after this, pushing for preservation of its natural beauty, and in 1904, Stanford president David Starr Jordan visited the Pinnacles and reported to Congressman James C. Needham what he experienced. Both men convinced Gifford Pinchot to support the idea of federal protection in the form of Pinnacles Forest Reserve. Pinchot proposed the idea to President Theodore Roosevelt, who established the reserve in 1906. It was not until 2012 that the area would be established as a national park, and only after a second designation as a national monument. The creation of the park also designated the Pinnacles Wilderness as Hain Wilderness, which comprises over eighty percent of the park.

Pinnacles National Park can be found in east California, located in a mountainous area about eighty miles from San Jose and five miles from Soledad, in the Salinas Valley. The elevation in the park rests between 824 and 3,304 feet. The area holds a Mediterranean habitat that is typical to California, with average temperatures falling between 50 °F and 100 °F. The area receives an average of sixteen inches of rain per year and can receive some snowfall at higher elevations. The ecosystem in the park is diverse and supports a wide variety of plant and animal species.

The habitats in park vary from riparian, woodland, grassland, and chaparral habitats and hold many types of vegetation. Trees in the park include blue oak, digger pine, and canyon live oak in arid areas of the park, and hollyleaf cherry, California buckeye, and coffeeberry in cooler area of the park. These areas support a variety of animal species including wild pigs, which have become a slight problem, Townsend’s big-eared bat, Prairie Falcons, wild turkeys, California condors, pronghorn antelope, black bears, grizzly bears, and cougars.

Although there are roads leading to Pinnacles National Park, these roads to not extend through the park, but paved roads lead to both the west and east entrances. Many hiking trails lead visitors through the park that hold varying difficulties. The trails give visitors an amazing view of the surrounding wildlife and most often hold scenic views of wildflowers. One of the most popular trails in the park, known as The Pig Fence, is a small portion of the South Wilderness Trail and holds a high difficulty rating. Other trails lead visitors to cool caves or to pinnacle rocks. Rock climbing is another popular activity within the park, although many of the rock formations can only be climbed by professionals. Visitors can lodge in the nearby town of Soledad or camp in one of the park’s campgrounds.

Image Caption: Rock formations at w:Pinnacles National Park. Credit: Brocken Inaglory/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)