Pinnacles National Monument was established in 1908 by U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, and it became a National Park in late 2012 when President Barak Obama passed legislation and signed it into law on January 10, 2013. It lies about 40 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean and is considered part of California’s Coast Ranges.
The park is located near the San Andreas fault line, and the geology of this area has had a hand in creating the unique rock formations that the park protects. The movement of the Pacific Plate along the fault has split a section of rock away from the main body of the extinct volcano and moved it almost 200 miles to the northwest. The pinnacles are believed to be part of this ancient rock formation because of the unique breccias that are found at the Neenach Volcano. Seismic activity is frequent in the park and the United States Geological Survey maintains two seismometers.
The wildlife is abundant, with 13 species of bats, prairie falcons, California Condor, coyote, skunk, wild turkey, gray fox, quail, and cougar. While camping there overnight, a flock of at least 14 turkeys rummaged among the fallen acorns all around Fred’s RV. I didn’t see a Tom but watched as one large and seemingly older hen kept a close eye out for the rest of them, and she appeared to call all the shots. If she let out a gobble, they would all take off in unison at surprising speed. They look so prehistoric and have long and powerful legs that can easily outrun a human. The turkeys are also quite vocal and would talk to one another constantly as they popped their heads up in search of danger. Quail were active too, and we saw a gray fox, mule deer, and the incredible California Condor when we hiked up to the pinnacles!
The campsite itself was spacious and we got the senior discount of only $18.00 per RV. What a bargain! There are no sewer hookups, but electricity is a must because of the extreme temperature variation. All the water faucets were frozen solid when we got up the next morning. Fred camped under a massive oak tree across from us, and while we watched the turkeys and quail rummage next to his RV, golden colored oak leaves fluttered down all around them. It was a beautiful sight to behold, with the weak sunlight filtering through the old and gnarled branches, and the leaves dipping and circling delicately, before falling silently to the ground.
I loved Pinnacles National Park, and our hike to see the condors along Condor Gulch Trail was a once in a lifetime opportunity. We didn’t stay but one night though due to the cold. Apparently, it is best to visit the park in the spring and fall.
Callie also thoroughly enjoyed watching the turkeys milling about, but only in the safety of our cozy RV dash and the front, look-out window. These birds were way too big for her to fantasize about capturing.