* UPDATE: Pinnacles National Monument is now classified as a National Park! Pinnacles National Park, located near Soledad here on the central coast of California, is a good camping getaway. It's between Hwy 101 and Hwy 25 and it's what I would call "out in the sticks" but that isn't a bad thing.
According to the National Park Service:
"Pinnacles Rocks are believed to be part of the Neenach Volcano that occurred 23 million years ago near present-day Lancaster, California, some 195 miles (314 km) southeast. The giant San Andreas Fault split the volcano and the Pacific Plate crept north, carrying the Pinnacles. The work of water and wind on these erodible volcanic rocks has formed the unusual rock structures seen today."
It has some pretty cool history but for My girl and I, we just wanted to go camping, and this was just a short distance away so we thought it would be a good place to check out. We made our campsite reservations online, and if you are an Annual National Park Pass holder like myself you will receive an extra discount on your camping site. The campgrounds have sections for trailers and motor homes, and sections they call "non-electric" or what I would call... Tents. We stayed in a tent!
Researching the park I found this is the home of many California Condors, Tarantulas, falcons, and even Golden Eagles. I was excited to see if I could see any of these creatures, especially the condor with a wing span of up to 10 feet. That is longer than my car! Well no luck on any of these but I did see several different species of rabbit. On our way out of the park we saw a couple Jack Rabbits. These rabbits have ginormous ears and are pretty speedy. I also seen cottontail's and just normal bunny rabbits. We did see some deer and lizards while hiking and coming from Michigan it's always interesting to see creatures in the wild that I normally have seen in a zoo or on TV.
We set up our campsite and then went on a hike through some of the caves they have in the park. Head lamps / flashlights are needed, but besides a few tight spots in the caves it was fairly easy to navigate. Our hike led us through the caves to a reservoir, or what I like to call a lake. It was a nice resting spot before taking a different trail back to our car. They also have several designated spots for rock climbers along the trail system. I did stop and watch some climbers, but in my opinion it's a rather amateur rock climber destination. The face was about 40' without any real obstacles, never the less you won't catch me doing it. The view throughout the park was ok, nothing really impressive, but what was impressive was the night sky.
We got back from our hike and took a nap knowing we where going to stay up late to view the night sky. Being in the middle of nowhere has its advantages and one of those advantages is being away from the city lights. The sky was filled with bright stars. I can't remember watching the moon set before, but I did this night. The moon set perfectly behind the Pinnacles foothills which made a great photograph and is also this post's picture.
I did enjoy our trip to Pinnacles National Park. There isn't any breathtaking views, but it's filled with wildlife and it's a great place to take the family camping and hiking and maybe just maybe see how impressive a California Condor really is.