A Tour Guide to Pinnacle National Park

A visit to Pinnacle national park and you will wonder why it is referred to as the 5th smallest park. This is because it has a lot to offer. I discovered that the park is best visited during the colder months. These because of flowers are blooming on the trails during the spring.

If you are in search of a family park, then this is the place to come and have fun during the weekends or holidays. Though the size is an issue when it comes to the park, it has compensated for this through the beautiful sceneries, wondrous biological diversity, and fascinating geological history.

Pinnacle national park
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How to get the park

The park is located on the east of the Salinas Valley in central California above 5 miles of Soledad and 80 miles southeast of San Jose. You can use either of the means to reach the park.

1. Road

Road to Pinnacle National Park
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A road trip to the National Park usually makes the experience more fulfilling. This is something you enjoy when you are with your family or friends in the car, admiring the scenery from afar. When driving to the park, it is essential to note that no road connects the two entrances. That is the east and the west. Therefore, the only way to these two points is through the King city.

If you are driving from the San Francisco Bay area to the Eastern entrance, take Highway 101 south. Go through the city of Gilroy to highway 25. From there you pass through Hollister town and continue driving 30 miles on the road 146 where you turn right. You then turn left into the Pinnacle campground.

You may as well take highway 101 head south to Soledad, then take the 146 highway east. Driving for a distance of 14 miles then you would have reached the Pinnacle National Park. This will lead you to the west entrance.

When driving from the South to the East entrance, you will have to drive on highway 101 to King city. Then later exit at 1st street and turn right towards King town and continue driving until 1st St turns into Bitter water road. At the intersection of highway 25 turn left and drive for 15 miles. After the 15 miles take a left onto 146 highway, then turn left into the park.

You might as well drive to Soledad using the 101 highway north. Then later take the 146 highway and drive for 14 miles and you would have reached the park. This will take you directly to the western entrance.

2. Air

For those who get car sick, there is an option of flying to the park. Though this will not take you directly to the park. It reduces the time spent in the car. You will take one hour and a few minutes from the airport to reach the Pinnacle National Park.

You can choose to use the Norman Y. Mineta San Francisco International airport if flying internationally or Monterey Regional Airport if flying domestically. You will have to book earlier during the holiday seasons.

Recommended activities

At the park, there is something forever one regardless of age. Though the park is small, it compensates for this with different activities that you can indulge in. You might do this together with your colleagues, family, or friends. Here are some of the highly recommended events that you can take part in.

1. Hiking

Hiking Pinnacle National Park
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For the hikers, you wouldn’t want to miss out on this adventure. Ensure that you carry your gear. The park presents you with different hiking trails that you can challenge yourself with.

You can start by hiking the Balconies Cliffs Loops, which is 300 meters high this is for beginners. There is also the Juniper Canyon that is 1600 feet high for those who are experienced in this field

These are some of the trails that you can consider, but there are over 30 miles of hiking trails. They range from easy to hard trails. What I recommend is that you carry a bottle of water and wear comfortable shoes.

2. Camping

The Pinnacle camping ground is perfect for you. This is a place where you and your family or friends can camp without any fears. The campsite is located on the eastern side of the park, but you are also permitted to camp on the western side.

The Pinnacles Campgrounds provides you with camping sites, tent, and RV. There is also a panic table, water spigots, shared tables, barbecue pits set at the grounds. This is done to ensure you feel right at home and safe. Therefore, you wouldn’t have to worry about anything once at the camp.

3. Rock climbing

Rock Climbing
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For those who are fanatics of this particular sports. You will enjoy every bit of it. The park is made up of giant pinnacles which emerged from the ancient volcanic activity. The rocks are responsible for dividing the park into east and west. The name of the park originated from the pinnacle rocks.

The Salinas valley presents you with the perfect rocks to climb. If you are interested in taking up this sport and want to learn more about it. Classes are being offered about the art by two institutions, the Castle Rock climbing school, and Adventure Out. This is done during the weekends.

4. Bird watching

The park is made up of over 140 bird species. One of the birds is the California condor. It’s a giant bird in North America. Most people do mistake it to be turkey vultures.

The gigantic bird can live for sixty years. Other species will catch your eyes. They include the red-tailed hawks, prairie falcons, the golden eagles among others.

5. Exploring the caves

There are two caves that you must see when in the park. They include the Balconies caves and Bear Gulch. They are both remarkable and will take your breath away. If you are to visit them, ensure you have a flashlight and the right shoes.

The Balconies cave is located on the western side of the park, while the Bear Gulch is located on the eastern side. What you should have in mind before visiting them is that the Balconies cave is closed during the winter rains. The Bear Gulch is closed between mid-May to mid-July when the bats are rearing their young ones.

6. Enjoying the wildlife

The park is home to various animals such as deer, bobcats, and coyotes. These are some of the animals that you will see in the park. Therefore, I suggest that you tag along with your camera and take a picture of these animals.

Accommodation facilities

When out for a vacation or trip, there are no perfect places to rest like a good hotel. This enables you to relax after a long day of exploration. Here are some of the hotels that will make your stay soothing and perfect.

1. Bernardus Lodge Carmel Valley

It is situated 415 Carmel Valley Road 32 miles from the park near the Carmel Village. The luxurious resort is a smoke-free facility making it ideal for you and the kids. You will be presented with a 24-hour heat swimming pool and a spa. There is also a tennis court and an exercise room as well. For those who have their canine friends tagging along the hotel is pet-friendly. The charges are $33 per night inclusive of parking and internet fees.

2. Holiday Inn Express Hotel and Suites Salinas

It is located 30 miles away from the National Park. The hotel has a heated indoor swimming pool that you can use any time of the day or weather. An exercise room as well is found within the building to burn some calories.

Wake up in the morning to a breakfast buffet while enjoying the free Wi-Fi. Plus free parking is being offered. The downside of this particular place is that it does not allow pets. The resort charge $419 per night.

3. Good Nite Inn Salinas

The Good Nite Inn is found 29 miles from the park. It costs $209 per night to stay in the hotel. There is an outdoor swimming pool and free Wi-Fi. The parking is also free, and pets are not allowed in the facility.

4. Vision Quest Safari Bed and breakfast Inn Salinas

It is an eight bungalow resort located 26 miles from the National Park. If you want to take a break from the world, then this is the ideal place to bring your family friends or even colleges. The hotel has no swimming pools or Internet connection.

This gives you time to bond with your family members. You will be treated to a free continental breakfast to prepare you for the day. The facility does not allow children below four years and also pets. To stay in the hotel, it will cost you $268 per night.

5. Quality Inn King City   

It is found 18 miles from the park. The highway motel is smoke-free, making it ideal for your family. There is also a free parking space. Therefore, you wouldn’t have to worry about security. An outdoor swimming pool and free Wi-Fi connection make the hotel perfect.

In the morning you will be treated to a free breakfast buffet to give you the energy to start the day. Pets are not allowed in the motel. A night at the Quality Inn King City will cost you $98.

Places to eat

Your holiday or weekend at the park cannot be complete without recognizing a place to eat. Am sure you are looking for a place that can fit your family or friends comfortable. The second thing is the sanitization of the facility and lastly the price of each meal. There are no restaurants within the park. Not to worry since there are those found stone throw away. They include

1. Running iron Restaurant

The Restaurant is located along Valley road, and it’s open from 11 am to 2 am. It’s an ideal place to bring your family to have a meal; their dishes are delicious. When you have a chance, you shouldn’t think twice about the hotel.

It has an outdoor seating area that allows enjoying your meal while admiring the architectural design of the buildings.  You can enjoy a bottle of beer when relaxing after a long day. If you are in luck, you can catch the hourly specials.

2. Windmill restaurant

It is located at Front St, Soledad. A Restaurant is a magical place for you and the family. The area is quiet, thereby giving you peace of mind. It is open from 7 am to 10 pm.

3. La Plaza Bakery

The Restaurant is satiated 33 3rd Gonzales this is the perfect place to drop by. Mexican foods are hot and delicious. This is something I am sure you would want to taste.

4. Jardines de San Juan

The hotel is one of a kind. It has a patio at the back near the garden. The venue creates romantic scenery that is perfect for couples. It is an ideal place to take a bite with your family. The hotel is situated on 115 Third St, San Juan Bautista and opened from 11:30 am to 9 pm.

5. Tacos La Poteranca De Jalisco

When driving on the 101 freeway up to the CA. You need to stop at the Restaurant and have a taste of the traditional burritos. They have seating areas inside and outside. If you are in a hurry, you can make a quick stop for you when on the road. The food is also pocket-friendly and opens between 9:30 am to 10 pm.


Though the park is considered the 5th smallest part of the country, it has a lot to offer. From birds, wildlife, the pinnacles, the caves, and camping grounds. There is simply something for everyone, regardless of age. Therefore I recommend that you book a date to visit the park and experience these adventures.

You shouldn’t be worried about a place to stay or eat during your visit, as there are multiple resorts, hotels, and restaurants to ensure you are comfortable. For motels, hotels, and resorts, you have to book in advance.


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