During our trip to Northern California to visit as many National Parks as we possibly could, we realized how close Pinnacles National Park was to San Francisco. For some reason before arriving in Northern California we pictured that the park was hours and hours away from where we would be. While we were visiting the Rosie the Riveter National Historic Park we realized that Pinnacles was within a few hours drive.
So on the spur of moment, we decided to head towards Pinnacles National Park that night. We had very loose plans for our trip. Our main goal was to be able to photograph as many National Parks as we could for John’s #365NPSTammileeTips project on Instagram. He is sharing a new National Park photo every day in 2016. Make sure and check out his Instagram Profile – @JohnTillison
We drove south from San Francisco and found a room in Gilroy for the night. There is an In and Out Burger, Starbucks and great shopping what more could we ask for. We got up pretty early to drive the last 90 minutes to Pinnacles National Park. The drive is absolutely gorgeous! You travel through farm and grazing lands that are worth the drive on their own.
Going into our visit to Pinnacles we honestly were not sure what to expect from the park. We didn’t really have time to do a lot of research on the park other than checking it out on my phone. The one thing that really stuck out was the opportunity to possibly see California Condors!
From the moment we got within the park I was swinging my head right and left in hopes of seeing a condor….funny thing they are not as easy to spot as you would think.
There are also a ton of vultures that hang out within the park. The only way to know if you are looking at a condor is to see the birds underwing or to look and see if the bird is tagged.
They told us at the visitor center that it is not uncommon to see Condors hanging out in the trees right next to the visitor center. We had our new camera lens with us so we ended up taking 100’s of pics of all the big birds hanging out in the trees. When we got home and looked at the pics we realized we had 100’s of pictures of vultures.
None of the birds we took pics of were tagged.
We did get this pic of a red-shouldered hawk which made me so excited!! This was our first trip with the new 100-400 Canon lens. I was so happy to get this shot. During our California National Park trip, the lens helped out a ton. We grabbed some amazing pics at Yosemite and Point Reyes National Park also. Well worth buying it and bringing it with us.
1 more bird picture and then we will go back to beautiful park pics. I can’t help but share I am so excited about how much of a bird watchers paradise Pinnacles National Park was.
Pinnacles is known for it’s rock climbing but we also found a ton of great hiking/walking trails. There is something for all ability levels. One thing to know is make sure you have a lot of water and supplies with you. It does get really hot in the park while hiking.
We were really surprised by how busy the park was during our visit. Granted we were there on a holiday weekend but it was really popular with rock climbers and families. There is a campground on site but it was full the day we were there.
The visitor center also has a small store attached to it if you need water, snacks, or fun souvenirs. The park staff was really knowledgeable about the area and the Condors. They gave us great tips on trying to spot the Condors during our visit.
While we sadly did not spot any Condors during our visit it was still so worth taking the time to visit Pinnacles National Park. We can’t wait to visit again and spend more time looking for Condors.
We spent time on the East side of the park. The park has two separate entrances. You have to exit the park and drive around it to get to the next entrance. You can not drive through the entire park.
1 more bird pic…I can’t help myself 🙂