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A Pinnacle Moment: Central California Monument Becomes America's 59th National Park

An open space already popular with climbers and condors just became the 59th national park in America's 398-unit National Park System.

On Thursday (Jan. 10) President Barack Obama signed legislation that upgrades Pinnacles National Monument, located near the Central California city of Soledad, to national-park status.

Pinnacles becomes California’s ninth national park. Some additional points of interest:

  • Pinnacles occupies 26,000 acres (roughly 40 square miles) and lies roughly due east of the coastal community of Monterey.
pinnacles-hikers

Hikers in what is now Pinnacles National Park. (NPS photo)

  • Theodore Roosevelt designed the site a national monument in 1908. Interesting footnote: Today (Jan. 11) is the 105th anniversary of the date Roosevelt designated the Grand Canyon as a national monument.
  • The park gets its name from rock spires and crags that are remnants of an ancient volcano.

  • The volcano eroded over millions of years as it moved northward along the San Andreas Fault. The volcanic field originated about 195 miles south of the present location of Pinnacles. It has traveled northward along the San Andreas Fault, and now moves at a rate of about 3 to 6 centimeters per year.

  • Roads approach from the east and west, but no through road bisects the park.

  • Rock climbing is one of the primary activities at Pinnacles, along with hiking and wildlife viewing. REI offers a couple of popular climbing guides for the park: A Climbing Guide to Pinnacles National Monument and Climbers’ Guide to Pinnacles National Monunment.

  • Pinnacles has played an important role in reestablishing the California condor.

  • It turns out that today is the final day to submit a public comment on the Pinnacles National Monument General Management Plan and Environmental Assessment.

Were you familiar with Pinnacles before this announcement? Will its status change to national park make you more inclined to visit?

Posted on at 2:00 PM

Tagged: Pinnacles and national parks

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Ann B Staff Member

I didn't know about this park before your post, Terry. Just saw on the news there was a small earthquake there. Mother Earth's chuckle at gaining a new national park.

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