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Pinnacles National Monument
5000 Hwy 146
Paicines, CA 95043
Rising out of the chaparral-covered mountains, east of Salinas Valley, are the spectacular remains of an ancient volcano. Massive monoliths, canyons and passages define millions of years of erosion. During the spring, dozens of varieties of wildflowers can be found on each trail at Pinnacles. The peak blooming season at Pinnacles is from March through May.
The rock features offer a variety of rock climbing routes that range from easy to the multi-pitch climbs along Machete Ridge. There are several caves to explore: the Bear Gulch Cave and the Balconies Cave. Flashlights are required for hikes through the caves. Approximately half of the cave is open to the public while still protecting the colony of Townsend's big-eared bats.
Pinnacles is also a release site for the endangered California condor, and the birds can sometimes be seen from hiking trails throughout the park.