our nation's newest national parks, and I couldn't be happier about it! Assuming the legislation is signed by President Obama, Pinnacles National Park will be one of the most geologically interesting parks in the system for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it lies on a major plate boundary, and provided critical evidence for understanding the movement of the San Andreas fault. It doesn't hurt that it is also one of the most scenic portions of the central Coast Ranges of California (mind you, Big Sur is beautiful too, but remarkably no part of Big Sur is a national park or monument).
click here for a sampling of some of my descriptions of the region). The geological attraction of the park is the 22 million year old extinct stratovolcano that erupted on top of the San Andreas fault in southern California near Palmdale and Lancaster in the Mojave Desert. Subsequent movement along the fault has carried the Pinnacles half of the volcano 195 miles northwest to its present location in the central Coast Ranges (the other half, called the Neenach volcanics, aren't nearly as scenic).
talus caves. One is a quarter mile long, and includes an underground waterfall.
Pinnacles National Monument-soon-to-be Park can be accessed by paved roads from the west out of Soledad and King City, and from the east on roads out of Hollister and San Juan Bautista (no roads cross the monument). A campground is available on the east side of the park, and 30 miles of trails are available. The park is a popular technical rock-climbing area. There are only nine days left to comment, but an extensive management plan is being considered at this time. Information can be found by clicking here.