Pinnacle National Park in California officially became the nation’s 59th national park this week. After legislation by Congress passed late 2012, President Obama signed the park into law January 10, 2013 and now it is official to the public. Already a celebrated tourist destination formerly known as Pinnacles National Monument, the park hosts an array of activities from rock climbing to volcanic landscapes. The elevation from National Monument to National Park signifies a larger umbrella of protection for the area. A National Monument focuses on preserving one nationally significant resource, while a National Park protects a variety or resources and encompasses a larger area according to the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Pinnacle is the ninth location in California to get granted Park status. This area’s history began back in 1908 with President Roosevelt labeling it a national monument to protect its rock formations. Rock formations that bring over 300,000 visitors annually to rock climb. These rock formations are from archaic volcanic fields and offers over 30 miles of rock formations to climb and hike through. The 27,000 acre park is 2 hours south of San Francisco and 1 and ½ hours south of San Jose just east of Salinas Valley.
The park itself gains its name from the spires of volcanic rock, boulders and caves that scatter the park. The fault lines and earthquakes of California have driven these pinnacles up over the past couple hundred years. But the park also plays home to large winged population…the California condor. Currently labeled as an endangered species it is one of 32 and by far the largest bird that occupies this park. The park is a safe haven for this endangered species, providing safe grounds for roosting far from power lines and populated trails.
The park is making other headlines as well…documentary film maker Ken Burns and various other natural conservatives have shifted their attention towards the park. Many of them citing the historical context behind the parks importance, a place that has been home to Native Americans, Spanish settlers, Americans during the westward movement and now present day American rock climbers.
In any event the park offers a Mediterranean climate much like most of southern California. Winters are cold and summers are hot with temperatures reaching the 100’s F. If you plan on heading to the park in summer make sure and pack water and some sunscreen for your hike or climb. Fox San Francisco and Fox San Jose both offer great Jeep’s to pack your climb gear and head into Pinnacle with.