Pinnacles National Park is one of the country's newest with the area formerly known as Pinnacles National Monument making the switch over in 2013, signed by President Obama.

Only a 2.5-3 hour drive from the Bay Area, this park is well-known in Northern California.  It was our first time visiting the park and while it's on the small side for California's National Parks it is definitely worth a day or two if you're in the park's general vicinity.

We hiked 2 trails in addition to the drive, Moses Spring to Rim Trail and Condor Gulch Trail, both considered moderate but in our opinion fairly easy if you're in relatively good shape.

Some of the infamous rock formations that give Pinnacles its name.
I think this was the first time I remember seeing a quail in the wild. They have quite a loud call.

While the Bear Gulch caves were closed for bat pupping season, Balconies Cave was open and is an easier and shorter cave access near Bear Gulch reservoir on the Rim Trail.  While small, it's still neat to see some of the talus formations Pinnacles is known for.

Despite only being in the park hiking for around 5 or so hours, we saw plenty of animals including snakes, lizards, and squirrels.  Unfortunately no California Condors, but fingers crossed for the next visit – a true bucket list fauna sighting for me.

This guy was smashing on some sort of nut.

All the hiking we did was fantastic and not too hard.  Due to our limited time, we stuck to 2 aforementioned smaller routes in order to try and check out multiple parts of the park accessible from the west side.  There are much longer hikes you can do such as the High Peaks Trail which gives a much more panoramic view of the park from above.

Bear Gulch Reservoir. Water snakes aplenty!
Some more hiking through Balconies Cave, showing some of the park's infamous talus rock formations.
A section of Condor Gulch trail.

I think Pinnacles is totally worth the drive for a day trip if you're in the Bay Area and worth camping or staying a night somewhere if you're a little further out.  My guess is most people within driving distance of Pinnacles probably have something "better" that's closer or almost as close, but that does not mean you should skip out – Pinnacles is a National Park for a reason after all.

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