Pinnacles National Park is just two hours drive from San Jose, the home of Silicon Valley, and the city which I call home for the last few years. One spring Sunday morning, when I woke up by the beam of morning light on my eyes, something in me wanted to follow that light. I went out and saw a beautiful morning awaiting with its wide open arms. I wanted to taste that morning glory slowly like one drinks a glass of wine. So, away from the hustle and bustle and ever busyness of city life, wilderness beckoned and off I went without any plans and expectations. Here I present a photo essay, or perhaps more appropriately, postcards from Pinnacles National Park.
I wanted to taste that morning glory slowly like one drinks a glass of wine. So, away from the hustle and bustle and ever busyness of city life, wilderness beckoned and off I went without any plans and expectations. #Travel… Click To Tweet
On the way to Pinnacles National Park
As my car rolled at the speed of 65 miles per hour and went past the city, slowly a verdant California unfolded in front. On the way to Pinnacles National Park, my eyes savored the greenery and pumped in me a fresh impetus to indulge with all my senses.
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Meeting a visitor from the clouds
All of a sudden the blue of the sky and the clouds started competing with each other and the clouds won. The golden sunshine melted amidst the clouds and gifted me a soft white light that indeed has a charm like a glass of wine. My wish got fulfilled and on top of that meeting, my most favorite visitor from the clouds was a bonus. You got it right; refreshing rain rejuvenated me!
I am a lover of rain as much as the sunshine. So when the visitor from afar visited and the front windowpane of my car welcomed it with trumpets, I too opened the car and went out to shake hands with it.
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After reaching Pinnacles National Park
After the soothing two hours drive, the visitor from afar bid me farewell and finally, I saw the welcome message and took my signature shots after reaching Pinnacles National Park.
Just before reaching the visitor center, we were greeted by a deer.
Pinnacles Visitor Center
The Pinnacles visitor center is relatively new. It has a small shop, some picnic tables nearby and restrooms. I was delighted to meet two lovely squirrels on the ground and California condors up in the sky.
Meeting a musician amidst wilderness
Serendipity in travels are gifts. A sweet story alert for you all!
I was trying to decide which trail to follow for a short hike and then suddenly saw a man with a large pipe (almost 4ft) in his mouth. I heard a lovely sound that came out of that long pipe. I enquired about the musical instrument. He said, it is a musical instrument called Didgeridoo developed by indigenous Australians and that he is a musician.
Meeting a musician amidst the wilderness was a sweet story that added an extra pointer to remember the beautiful Pinnacles that centers around rugged red rocks.
Things to do and see in Pinnacles National Park
National Parks in America and its wilderness let me step into silence and stillness; a much-cherished luxury for me. After the serendipitous meeting with a musician, I came across a gently flowing stream, surrounded by mountains. It was hard for me not to stop and spend a few precious moments amidst pristine nature.
Reservoir Caves and High Peaks
After spending some quiet time by the stream, I hiked a trail and loved seeing the caves and beautiful rock formations. You can choose a different trail and go for a hike or can choose to do rock climbing or simply indulge in bird watching. it all depends on your mood and tenacity.
How were the Pinnacles formed?
After seeing the beautiful rock formation while hiking, I was intrigued and tried reading about the formation of the red rocks. It was interesting to know that those rocks are all that’s left of a 23,000,000-year-old volcano called Neenatch. The San Andreas Fault ripped the old volcano in half and took the rocks for a millions-of-years-long ride to today’s location. According to the National Park Service, they’re still moving – about an inch per year. At that rate, they’ll be near where San Francisco is now in another 6 million years.
Perhaps the best way to understand how Pinnacles originated is to imagine that you are watching a video shot some 60 million years ago ending at the present time. Not wishing to view something that is milleniums-long, you speed up the action by keeping your finger on the fast-forward button. No matter. In the end, you still know the story well enough to repeat it.National Park Service
Pinnacles National Park FAQ
Now time for some practical information and tips. Let’s go!
How many entrances are there in Pinnacles National Park?
There are two entrances to Pinnacles National Park. East Entrance and West Entrance. Hiking trails connect two entrances. You cannot drive across it.
What is the difference between the East and West Entrances in Pinnacles National Park?
You have to drive through Hollister about 30 miles, then turn right onto CA Hwy 146 to reach the East Entrance. If you plan to camp overnight or visit Bear Gulch Cave then East entrance is the best.
You have to take US Hwy 101 to Soledad, then follow the signs for 14 miles to reach West Entrance. It offers spectacular and beautiful views of the rock formations from the parking lot. It also has the easiest 2.4-mile round-trip loop hike.
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Where to stay near Pinnacles National Park
Best Western Park Crest Inn is one hour drive from Pinnacles National Park. You can enjoy beautiful Monterey and if you have time explore Monterey Bay Aquarium. The kelp forest exhibit in the Monterey Bay aquarium is unique. The 28 feet kelp forest is one of the tallest aquarium exhibits in the world. Book your stay at Best Western Park Crest Inn
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- If you are planning a quick getaway from San Francisco Bay area then consider visiting Mendocino
- If you have a few days time and want to get lost in the wilderness then plan a trip to Redwood National Park
- If you are craving a good read then consider reading an article and seeing some beautiful glimpses of Romantic California
- If you are in a mood to immerse in some cultural shows then how about seeing a ballet in San Francisco?
- If you are a parent and want to gift your child a beautiful day amidst nature then take your child for a steam train ride in the San Francisco Bay Area
- In the mood to explore a few more national parks in California? Consider visiting Death Valley or Sequoia National Park.
- In the mood to see mountains then Lake Tahoe would be ideal for you.
- Want to plan an ideal summer vacation? Visit the Canadian Rockies.
- Lake Tahoe in Summer – Perfect 4 days!
Nature is an escape from the polarizing and paralyzing effect of the all-encompassing technical world we live in. I love floating in its healing realm. Pinnacles National Park is an easy escape for all San Francisco and Bay Area dwellers. You can come prepared with all the information on hiking trails or without any, like me. No matter how you come, you will go back with contentment. Just say yes to the wilderness and feel its magic.