West Entrance Sign Into Pinnacles National Park in California USA

Where is Pinnacles National Park

Pinnacles National Park is positioned between several large cities in the South-Western portion of the state of California. The closest city is San Jose which is only about an hour and twenty-six-minute drive. San Francisco is a two hour and nine-minute drive to the park, and Fresno California will take visitors around two hours and twenty-seven minutes to drive to the park. Those who want to travel from Los Angeles to Pinnacles US National Park could expect a drive of about four hours and forty minutes.

Volcanic Boulders Along Western Side of Mountains in Pinnacles National Park

How Big is Pinnacles National Park

This park is pretty large with lots of open space and pristine natural features. Pinnacles National Park comes in at about an astounding 26,606 acres across its entire area. It was originally around 16,721 acres but over a series of purchases additions of several sized parcels of private lands and ranches, it eventually grew to the current large size. There are over thirty miles of trails throughout the park ranging across different difficulties, the park’s largest trail being about 9.4 miles in total length.

Beautiful Sunny Day View of Pinnacle National Park California

Pinnacles National Weather

The part of the state of California that Pinnacles National Park is located in typically experiences wet and cloudy conditions during the winter months and becomes hot and arid once summer rolls in. During the coldest time of the year the temperatures may never reach above 55 degrees Fahrenheit but can be as low as 39 degrees. The coldest time of year lasts for a little over three months of the entire year and usually lands in the months from November to February. The hottest temperatures tend to spike for about 3.5 months where the temperatures can be as hot as 98 degrees at the hottest and 68 degrees at the coolest, this usually happens in the months of June to September.

When did Pinnacles Become a National Park

When President Theodore Roosevelt began to designate large swaths of the United States terrain as public land, he originally designated the area that became Pinnacles National Park as a national monument in the year 1908. The latest addition to the park was in the early 2000’s which brought the park to its current size of 26,606 acres. In 2012 the park was changed from a national monument into a national park.

View of Mountains During Sunset in Pinnacles National Park

Things to do in Pinnacles National Park

Our National Park Visitors Guide created this short guide which will show you the several activities available at Pinnacles National Park, each will allow visitors a unique way to experience what the park has to offer you.


Because of the many different geological formations that can be found in and around Pinnacles National Park, as well as the many miles of trails that explore the region, hiking is one of the most popular activities for visitors that make their way to the National Park.


The campsites that are found at Pinnacles National Park can only be accessed on the eastern side of the park, there are tent and group camping spots available as well as a few RV sites. You have to reserve a site ahead of time so be sure to check with the park’s website for any availability as well as any regulations.

Wildlife Watching

There is a large variety of wildlife that can be seen at Pinnacles National Park, ranging from mule deer and mountain lions to small prairie mammals and birds. The park is also known as a popular place to see the California Condor as well as over 13 species of bats in the caves, cliffs, and trees.

High Peaks Rock Formations on a Sunny Day in Pinnacles National Park California

Cave Exploring

You can explore several caves on your stay to the park. The caves that formed in Pinnacles National Park are home to many species of bats, to help lessen any negative impact from visitors’ portions of the caves are open at different times of the year, be sure to reference the website before your visit.


There is a lot to see when visiting Pinnacles National Park, and many memories can be made while hiking the miles of trails, caves, and vast landscape. For those that have the eye for photography there can be plenty of opportunities to capture the natural beauty the park has to offer.

Rock Climbing

There are several opportunities to rock climb around the many formations found at Pinnacles National Park including multi-pitch climbs across Machete Ridge. Be sure to read up on safety and raptor advisories to ensure a safe trip that doesn’t impact the wildlife.

Educational Programs

Because of the rich history and ecology that is intertwined in all of Pinnacles National Park, there are several educational programs that allow visitors an easy look into what makes the park so special to so many. Be sure to check the schedule ahead of time to ensure the availability.

Sunny Day View of Hiking Trails at Pinnacle National Park California

When to go to Pinnacles National Park

Because the weather in the area that Pinnacles National Park is located in has relatively mild winters compared to other parts of the country, you can comfortably visit the park year-round as long as you take proper preparations for weather. The summer months are ideal for the best weather conditions for those wishing to rock climb, camp, or hike but the park may be more crowded than if you visit during the spring, fall, or winter. For those wishing to visit the caves the months of October and March usually have at least a single week where you can visit the entire cave system, depending on the presence of bats. The cave is closed from mid May to mid July to protect the bats, and the rest of the year the lower half of the cave may be open, check with the park’s website before your trip for any closures.

Must-Have Things to Bring to Pinnacles National Park

The following guide will help you bring along the proper items to your visit to Pinnacles National Park and allow you to have a safe and enjoyable experience during your time at the park.


No matter the time of year that you visit Pinnacles National Park, List of Parks advises fresh water is an essential item to bring with you on your visit, dehydration is very serious especially in arid and hot areas. Be sure to bring enough to last for your entire stay.

Landscape View of Trail Towards North Chalone Peak Hain Wilderness in Pinnacles National Park

Weather Appropriate Clothing

The weather can be drastically different from one part of the day to the next during your visit to Pinnacles National Park, be sure to bring clothing that will protect you from the elements and keep you safe and dry no matter what time of year you plan on visiting the park.

Quality Hiking Boots

The many miles of hiking trails found throughout the area of Pinnacles National Park go over some pretty rugged terrain, bringing the proper fitting hiking boots and shoes is critical to keeping your feet and legs comfortable to enjoy the park and it’s unique landscapes.


Because there is so much to see when visiting Pinnacles National Park, from the geological formations, caves, and stunning landscapes to the many species of wildlife that live across them, bringing a camera is a great way of capturing specific moments and making sure you never forget those memories.

Hikers Walking Down Dirt Path in Pinnacles National Park


You aren’t allowed to leave the trails that are on Pinnacles National Park, and because of this there may be something that catches your eye in the vast landscape but you will be unable to get a closer look. Bringing a quality pair of binoculars will allow you to stay on the trail but get that closer look.

Field Guide

Because of the many different species of plants, animals, and insects that call Pinnacles National Park home, visitors that are interested in identifying wildlife and plants may want to bring along a field guide to identify the ones you come across that you may not necessarily recognize.

Hiking Trail Near Salinas Valley in Pinnacles National Park of Monterey County California


Whether you are going for a simple day hike or a several night camping trip, you will need to bring the proper amount of food with you for your stay at Pinnacles National Park. Be sure to clean up after yourself and keep from habituating the wildlife by practicing proper food storage.

First Aid Kit

Accidents happen when exploring wild spaces, and Pinnacles National Park is no exception. No matter what physical condition you are in, bringing a quality first aid kit to your visit is crucial to making sure that you and your entire party return home as safe as possible.

Climbing Gear

For those that are interested in climbing the several features that are in Pinnacles National Park, be sure to bring with you all of the proper rope, safety equipment, and other gear necessary to ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable experience rock climbing.

Sunny Day at Pinnacles National Park California

Where to Stay in Pinnacles National Park

Apart from the several campsites within Pinnacles National Park, the nearest place to stay is a short twenty-minute drive, however for those that are not comfortable with tent camping there are RV sites available for those that would like a more comfortable experience during their stay within the park. Fires are allowed only when there is a low risk for wildfires to be spread. Pets are allowed within the campsites, but they are not permitted to be on the trails and must be on a six foot leash at all times.

Food Nearby Pinnacles National Park

You have the opportunity to bring your own food into Pinnacles National Park and enjoy it during your stay, but for those that wish to leave the park and get food the nearest restaurant is an hour and three-minute drive from the campsite parking lot. But for those visitors that only come for the hiking trails you can leave from the western side of the park where the nearest restaurant is only a twenty-five-minute drive out of the park.

California Condor Flying Through Blue Sky in Pinnacles National Park

Airports Near Pinnacles National Park

While there are many smaller airports in the surrounding areas around Pinnacles National Park, the nearest large airport that visitors would most likely fly into is the Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport. This airport is about an hour and thirty-six-minute drive away from the park and will most likely have rental cars available for you to make the drive into the campgrounds or nearby hotels depending on the type of trip you are planning on embarking on.

National parkNational park guidePinnacles national park

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published