Pinnacles national park - California's caving and camping climbing mecca.

Pinnacles National Park

Pinnacles national parkLocated in central California, it is just over an hour's drive from the Bay Area.San FranciscoDeparture time is about two hours. Unlike most other California national parks, the peak season for Pinnacles national park is fall and winter, while summer is usually very hot. The park is small, but it is divided into east and west sides. There are entrances on both sides of the park, with only trails in between. The Pinnacles are the main attraction of the park, and are a mecca for rock-climbing enthusiasts. If you want to go through the whole park in one trip, the only way is to climb over the rock formation trail.

Campground accommodations are located on the east side of the park, so if you want to stay at the campground, you need to enter through the east entrance. It is important to note that because of the limited parking spaces at the entrance parking lot of the hiking trail, when the parking space is full, the driveway will be closed, and during the peak season, you need to take the shuttle bus in front of the visitor center, which currently departs from Thursday to Sunday between 8:00am~5:00pm. The main activities in the park are climbing and rock climbing, and if you want to take the cave trail, you should bring a flashlight with you.

Camp Environment

  • Comfort: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The campground is quite comfortable, the terrain is not very flat, but the ground is quite soft, and you won't be cold when you have a fire in the evening.

  • Camp Space: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

There are both large and small camp sites, the large ones are very big and the small ones are still considered medium-sized, and basically they can accommodate two small families.

  • Facility Cleanliness: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Overall it was clean and the facilities were well organized.

  • Location Convenience: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Some of the campgrounds are far away from the restrooms, so you need to drive or take a shuttle to get to the trails on the east side. However, the campgrounds are right next to the Visitor Center, so it's easy to take a shuttle bus.

  • Overall Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This National Park is quite young, having only been established in 2013, so the equipment is quite new in comparison. The campground has 124 general campsites and 10 Tent cabins, which is relatively easy to book compared to other places. Our two visits here were mainly for its large campsites with swimming pools.

The first time we came here, it was the height of summer and most of the tourists were just relaxing here after setting up camp. We arrived in the evening, and the temperature cooled down at night. We slept until the next morning when we woke up amidst the chirping of insects and birds.

The second time was in winter. Camping here in the winter is much cooler during the day, but the temperature difference between day and night can be as high as 40 degrees Fahrenheit, with the nighttime temperature only in the 40's and 50's. Animals also seem to be more active when it's cooler. Animals seem to be more active in the cooler weather, and we encountered an army of raccoons patrolling the area during our meal time.

Moses Spring to Rim Trail loop

There are a number of trails on the east side of the park, Moses Spring to Rim Trail Loop is one of the better trails with views of rock pillars and caves, the length of the loop is 2.2 miles, and it doesn't take long to get to the first rock climbing wall.

Pinnacles national park 尖頂國家公園

Our destination was the lower cave, the upper cave is closed during certain seasons because it is a bat roost. There are many narrow places on the trail where one has to turn sideways, and in some places one has to use both hands and feet. Although a flashlight is needed, the caves are not too difficult to navigate, and most of them have staircases.

The road will pass bear gulch reservoir, in the bare rock walk long time to see the pool and pinnacles reflection, there is a sudden special feeling of relaxation. This day was a cloudless day, the blue sky reflected in the water is very beautiful.

The Pinnacles have many large rock masses that were formed by erosion and brought about by plate movement, the walls and cracks we see are the result of plate movement.

pinnacles national park, Pinnacles National Park 17

While we were busy enjoying the open scenery below, we suddenly heard the sound from the wall next to us. It turned out that the wall next to the viewpoint is also one of the rock climbing spots, and a few of us climbed up from the steep rock wall next to it. Seeing this huge rock face, it was really fun for rock climbers, and I couldn't help but think that I would like to try it next time when I have the chance.

Old Pinnacles Trail to Balconies Cave

If you want to walk across to the other side of the park, a shorter route is the Old Pinnacles Trail, which is mostly flat and easy to follow, but the length, including the Balconies cave loop, is 5.3 miles round trip. the first half of the trail from the east side is fairly flat.

After walking to the Balconies cave loop, there are Balconies cliffs on the north edge and Balconies cave on the south edge. It is recommended to walk up the Balconies cliffs first, you can see the great scenery, then it is easier to walk down from the cave.

The caves are surrounded by boulders, so if you want to enter the caves, you must bring a flashlight, preferably a headlamp, because most of the caves require the use of both hands and feet, and in some places, they are very narrow, with a big difference in height, so you have to use your hands to hold on to the walls to squeeze through. Halfway up, you will often be confused as to which way to go because the cave is too narrow, so the park has drawn arrows on the rock wall to indicate the direction. This trail can be regarded as a grade of cave adventure, and those who dare to climb it should find it very interesting. cave trail is 0.4 miles.

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