Pinnacles: The Park on the Move!




Park Ranger Elizabeth Hudick discusses the incredible ecological biodiversity and various habitats of Pinnacles National Park, on Big Blend Radio, which are home to over 140 birds species of birds, 49 mammals, 22 reptiles, 8 amphibians, 71 butterflies, 41 dragonflies and damselflies, more than 400 bee species!

Like other monuments he created, Theodore Roosevelt included Pinnacles in his list of “must save” regions in 1908. Although his main reason was to preserve and protect this unique landscape and its wildlife, his visionary action also protected the economy of the gateway communities, who now benefit from the tourism. Pinnacles National Park, our 59th National Park, was elevated from a National Monument to its new status on January 10, 2013.

Located in central California, Pinnacles National Park is known as the “Park on the Move” because the park itself moves about 3-6 centimeters a year. In fact the park is now 195 miles north of its original location. The earth’s crust is divided into huge puzzle-like plates that are always moving around each other. Twenty-three million years ago, a part of the Farralon plate moved itself under part of the North American plate, causing the mountains along the California coast to emerge, along with some volcanic activity.

Part of the Pacific plate then collided with the North American plate creating the San Andreas Fault Zone and the Pinnacles volcano. The Pacific plate kept moving north, splitting the new volcanic field but taking volcanic formations with it. The heavy mass sank but wind, rain and ice eventually exposed the old volcanic field, which we see today. The park has since traveled long the San Andreas Fault which is part of the Ring of Fire, a string of volcanoes and earthquake sites positioned around the edges of the Pacific Ocean. Almost 90% of all earthquakes and 75% of all active volcanoes, occur along the Ring of Fire.

All this fire and jostling of earth plates has left us with one of the most fascinating and stunning natural areas boasting spectacular rock spires and monolithic boulders, cool caves, rolling hills and lush meadows, meandering creeks, seasonal springs and waterfalls, as well as beautiful Bear Gulch Reservoir. Pinnacles is home to diverse habitats that range from spectacular spring wildflowers to oak woodlands and chaparral scrub, caves and rock spires. These habitats are home to over 140 birds species of birds, 49 mammals, 22 reptiles, 8 amphibians, 71 butterflies, 41 dragonflies and damselflies, more than 400 bee species!

There are plenty of hiking trails, (over 32 miles of them), and you can go caving, rock-climbing, star gazing, bird watching, picnicking and camping. You can also explore the Bacon Ranch built in the early 1900’s. Keep your eyes open for a lucky glimpse of a California condor, as this park also manages a release site for captive bred California condors.

Boasting a Mediterranean climate, Pinnacles enjoys mild winters with chilly misty mornings, and some moderate precipitation that helps to create a little waterfall activity. Between the cooler temperatures and less number of visitors, winter is a fantastic season to explore this extraordinary park. Just wear warm layers and take a light rain repellent jacket to help you stay warm and dry from any rain showers.

Pinnacles is about 50 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean and 140 miles south of the San Francisco Bay area. It has two entrances, the East Entrance on CA 146 coming from Hollister or King City, and the West Entrance on CA 146 coming from Soledad. Note, CA 146 does not run through the park, so you cannot drive through the park from one entrance to the other.

See our Pinnacles National Park Travel Guide here:

State Travel Guide Visit Link Here
Nearest Parks Travel Guide

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Date Park Established January 10, 2013
County/City Travel Guide

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