Legislation to upgrade Pinnacles National Monument to a National Park was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in June, before finally receiving the nod from the Senate on December 30th.
The Pinnacles National Monument was created by President Theodore Roosevelt under the Antiquities Act of 1906. The initial area designated by the president was 2,080 acres, but has since grown to its current size of 26,606 acres.
The new park is located roughly 80 miles south of the San Francisco Bay Area, and about 40 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean.
The park gets its name from the massive monoliths, sheer-walled canyons, rock spires and crags that are remnants of an ancient volcano. The volcano eroded over millions of years as it moved northward along the San Andreas Fault.
Pinnacles is also home to a successful California condor re-establishment program. Every fall since 2003 captive-bred condors have been released into the wild. In 2010, for the first time in more than a century, a condor chick was successfully hatched within park boundaries. The national park now manages a population of 32 condors.
Pinnacles National Park has more than 30 miles of hiking trails. Hikes range from flat stretches of grasslands, to uphill climbs through talus caves, to the High Peaks Trail that takes hikers through the heart of the Pinnacles rock formations.
Due to extreme hot summer temperatures, Pinnacles is most popular in the cooler months. The park warns:
During the summer, extreme temperatures can make hiking uncomfortable at best, and possibly dangerous for those who are unprepared. If you plan to visit Pinnacles from late May through early September, please check the weather forecast and plan accordingly.During the spring, when the grasses are green and a variety of wildflowers can be seen along any trail, hiking is at its best. Fall and winter are also excellent times to visit.
For more information on the park, please click here. For more information on hiking in the park, please click here.