Pinnacles National Monument

Pinnacles was a national monument when I was there but I hear it’s been upgraded to a national park. It’s near Soledad, CA in central CA. This is where you go to see condors. The best time to go is during the winter months either early in the morning or before the sun goes down. Unfortunately it was late morning when we got there so we saw a condor flying overhead but none along the trail. The trail is primarily rock so it gets pretty hot.

Pinnacles is a release site for condors that have been bred in captivity for conservation efforts. Those that are released here then live freely in this park and along the Big Sur coastline. During my visit I learned that you can tell the difference between condors and vultures or eagles by their wing shape and markings; condors have a large white stripe spanning across the inside of the wing and a straight wingspan whereas golden eagles and vultures have white on their wing tips and a bend in the wings. This is the kind of information I retain from reading the signs these parks post at the trailheads.

There are miles of trails and caves that I didn’t get an opportunity to explore when I was there because I didn’t know what to expect when I rolled up to it. Next time I’ll go early morning in November prepared with flashlights for the caves and water for a full day hike. The trail that we did was a steep incline but easy and had awesome views. The rock formations are crazy lumps that developed after years of volcanic activity and other twists by mother nature. Would go again.

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