Travel Journal (2/11/21): Pinnacles National Park

Yesterday was an amazing day. In addition to visiting with family, I got to visit a national park that I have been meaning to visit for years, but haven’t had a chance to previously. Pinnacles National Park is a beautiful park that doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves. It’s one of the smallest parks in the US National Parks Systems, but is also one of the most underrated in my opinion.

In addition to the amazing rock pinnacles that give the park its name, the park is also famed for its high concentration of California Condors that live within the park. These huge birds can have a wingspan of up to 15-feet and are quite impressive to see soaring in the sky in the wild. Pinnacles National Park is one of the best places to spot these birds in the wild.

We only had half a day to explore the park, but were able to see most of what we wanted to see because of the park’s small size. I will definitely be producing a visitor guide in the coming months for the park, but wanted to highlight a few of my favorite things about the park for you here as well.

We wanted to get the best chance of spotting a condor as possible, so we decided to do the lengthy and difficult High Peaks Trail hike. We added on a section of trail that took us thru one of the park’s famed caves as well. The hike ended up being roughly 8.8 miles and had roughly 1,300-feet of elevation gain. Near the top of the high peaks trail it gets rather steep and narrow, which is what makes the trail so difficult.

We saw several condors soaring in the sky, which was cool, but got no close look at these amazing birds on our ascent. However, as if rewarded for our effort on the way up, a condor landed 15-feet from us on our descent. I was able to get a number of amazing closeup photos of this amazing creature that I am excited to share with you in the future. However, we also got some video of it taking off that I posted for you to see below.

It’s going to be hard to beat our amazing day yesterday, but I still have several days left on this trip. We were supposed to go on a whale watching tour near the Channel Islands today, but it got cancelled because of high winds and choppy seas. We rescheduled for Monday, so hopefully that trip will go off as planned. Today we plan on exploring Santa Barbara some more. Hopefully I will have another journal entry for you tomorrow. Until then, stay safe everyone!

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  1. Awesome! There are so, so, so many beautiful places in California! I am really hoping it works out for us to live there. I hope you’re doing some driving on the Pacific Coast Highway while you’re there!

    • Hi Scott! Thanks for reading! You are right, there are a TON of amazing things to do here. No drive up the coast this year because of the mud slides, but I have in years past. You’re right, it’s incredible!

  2. Looks like a great place to explore, glad you’re having a good time on your trip so far. Also interesting to learn there are channel islands over on that side of the world too. I only knew of the European Channel Islands and was confused when I first read about your plans, a long way to go for some whale watching!

    • Thanks Jason! Yes sir, the channel islands of California are a US National Park. Large northern elephant seal population and large concentration of great white sharks. Also a great spot to see blue whales. Probably best spot in the world to see them consistently. 👍

  3. That park is so pretty. It’s going on the list. 🙂

  4. I’ve been wanting to check out this place for awhile! Thanks for sharing!

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