It’s not every day that a national monument becomes a national park. But California Congressman Sam Farr and Senator Barbara Boxer were determined to take Pinnacles National Monument to that level. So they put together the Pinnacles National Park Act and submitted it for approval with a letter of support from Ken Burns, the filmmaker who created “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.” The end result? America’s 59th national park, right in the Bay Area’s backyard.
Meet Pinnacles, America’s newest national park – and California’s ninth. Pinnacles gets its name from the rock spires and crags that are remnants of an ancient volcano – part of the fascinating story of the region’s geology. While the designation of “national park” may be new to the monument, its natural beauty and historical significance are not.
Here are a few fun facts about the park:
- Theodore Roosevelt named Pinnacles a national monument in 1908
- The park contains 27,000 acres of wildlands and has more than 400 species of native bees
- It had more than 343,000 visitors in 2012
- The park is home to the California condor and has been part of the California Condor Recovery Program since 2003
Former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said, “This ancient and awe-inspiring volcanic field with its massive monoliths, spires, cave passages and canyons is a place that restores our souls and energizes our bodies with its beauty and abundant opportunities for outdoor recreation.” Though Pinnacles is a “day-use park,” it offers occasional full moon hikes and dark sky astronomical observations led by rangers. Interested in visiting?
From bat caves to condor sightings, Pinnacles offers much to see and do. Rock climbing is a popular Pinnacles activity, along with exploring the caves and camping. If you’re one for spontaneous travel, May is the final month to catch the beautiful wildflowers in bloom across the park. If you have questions about how best to explore the latest national park, our friends at the National Park Service have the answers.
Planning a camping trip there? Check out our list of essentials to bring along.