Pinnacles National Park

Central Coast

A study in geological drama, this park's craggy monoliths, sheer-walled canyons and twisting caves are the result of millions of years of erosion. In addition to hiking and rock climbing, the park’s biggest attractions are its two talus caves. Balconies Cave is always open for exploration, while Bear Gulch Cove is generally closed from mid-May to mid-July when the resident colony of Townsend's big-eared bats raises their offspring.

The namesake spires divide the park. For the west entrance, exit Hwy 101 at Soledad and follow Hwy 146 northeast for 14 miles. The east entrance is accessed via Hwy 25 from Hollister and Hwy 146. There is no road connecting the two sides of the park but you can hike across in about an hour. There are visitor centers on both sides. While in the park, keep an eye out for endangered California condors circling above.

Pinnacles is best visited during spring or fall; summer’s heat is too extreme.