The 4th national park that we visited on our California trip was Pinnacles National Park. Pinnacles is actually the youngest national park in the system. Although it was made a national monument by Theodore Roosevelt in 1908, it didn’t actually get made into a national park until 2013. Knowing this always makes me wonder if there will be more than 59 parks to visit by the time Jeb and I finish our quest to go to all of them. For now though, this was the 30th park we visited and officially put us past the halfway point in our journey to visit all of the national parks.
Definitely my favorite part of Pinnacles were the two talus rockfall caves. Jeb and I have been in lots of types of caves before (limestone, marble, sea caves, lava tube caves, and ice caves). But this was our first time going into a cave that was formed from rockfall.
The park service lets you visit and explore these two caves on your own and they remain “wild” in the sense that there are no lights in them. However there were stairs, railings, and paved areas. But it was still a lot of fun going into them.
About to head into the cave! We were probably the only people there that day following the caving rule of having 3 sources of light per person, but hey doesn’t hurt to be extra prepared!
The caves are only open certain times of the year, when there are not bats in them. So we were really lucky to hit it right and have both caves open.
Looking up at these huge boulders! I have been in a lot of caves and just the act of being in a cave does not scare me. I’m not claustrophobic and I don’t believe that despite the fact that most limestone caves take millions of years to form, that it is suddenly going to collapse because I’m in it… But I do have to say these rockfall caves did make me slightly nervous. Maybe it’s because of the fact that they DID form by huge human crushing boulders coming crashing down…
At this point we were still in areas that had some natural light coming down into the cave.
OMG he is so strong! haha.
About to head into much tighter and darker areas of the cave.
I don’t know why exactly (maybe I didn’t think it through) but I didn’t really expect the caves to have areas of total and complete darkness. But it did. We tested it lol. We got to an area that we thought seemed very dark and we both turned our headlamps off and there was complete 100% darkness. Pretty cool.
Headed out of the first cave back into the light.
Next we headed over to another area of the park where we could go into the second cave. Pinnacles is actually a pretty small park compared to how large so many of them are. There are only a few miles of roads in the park even. This was a big contrast to the hours that we spent driving through Sequoia/Kings Canyon.
I was bummed that we didn’t think to bring our cave pack 🙁 It definitely would have been much easier to maneuver in the tight areas than with this orange pack.
Lots of moss on the rocks.
Here are a bunch more pictures from in the cave!
Almost all of the pictures we took were from areas that had some light coming in (because they photographed better) but don’t be fooled lol, there were definitely areas that were very dark.
Should have brought our helmets!
There was so much water coming through this cave. It said that sometimes of the year you have to wade through water to get through. Fortunately there wasn’t that much but it was still flowing hard and pretty loud.
There I am!
At the area above the cave where you come out, there is a really pretty reservoir that was reflecting the rocks in the water.
The next day we did the high peaks trail to get some scenic views of the Pinnacles and rock formations that the park contains.
Another neat aspect of this park is that it contains 38 California Condors. This bird is the largest bird in North America. They used to be extinct in the wild and then were reintroduced in a few of the western states. Even still they are still pretty rare. Having heard this I was like yeah we’re never going to see one… But sure enough we saw several on our hike!
This bird was not afraid or bothered by us at all. It just sat there watching us. We saw a few others and it was really cool watching them fly. I wished we had our better zooming lense to get closer pictures of them, but that thing is too big and heavy to hike with (in my opinion).
We also saw some pretty wildflowers on our hike. Not nearly to the extent that we see them in the summers of the Colorado mountains, but still pretty!
If you like caves then Pinnacles is definitely worth the visit. For people looking for a park to just drive through or one with tons of spectacular overlooks right off the road, then this would not be the ideal park. I personally enjoyed it quite a bit 🙂