Wild turkeys, rabbits, condors, and the sun shining on your (hopefully) sunscreened face, Pinnacles is a great campground that even has a nearby...
We had a great stay here. Unfortunately we went in August when it was crazy hot. The sites we reserved were directly in the sun with zero shade (sites 16 & 17). They were good to us and let us move to a group site in the shade. We will be back...in the spring.
The camp itself is quite comfortable and civilized. It has showers, several bathrooms, a small swimming pool and a convenient store in case you forget something, including ice, some food, beer, ice cream, wood, gas bottles, etc...
The tent spots are mostly back to back so you are likely to have a neighbor, but they all have their own table and a grill which is nice.
The camp has 134 spots total including Tent and RVs which are separate from each other.
If you are looking to do car camping (or glamping) this is a great place for that, it has everything you need, it's family friendly, RV friendly, etc... If you want a hidden remote small camping spot this wouldn't be my first choice.
Bring layers, especially if you want to explore the caves. Even when it’s warm outside, the caves can get surprisingly damp and cold.
Bring flashlights if you plan to go inside the caves, and it helps to have a less bulky backpack - tight spaces!
Went in mid-December, and temperatures at night dropped to the low 20's. As long as you're prepared, it's a great place for a winter getaway from the Bay Area! However- this place has some seriously ballsy raccoons. They will hop on the picnic tables (right next to you!) and try to snag food if you turn around for even one second. Be prepared to chase them away the entire time you're trying to enjoy dinner.
Crazy hot and buggy in June, even in a fully shaded site. Bring ice - the general store ran out when we were there. The pool can get a little cray with all the kids, but we had it to ourselves on Sunday. High Peaks trail is sweet. Definitely coming back for some rock climbing.
Beautiful national park. The hiking and general exploring are worth staying at least once in the campground. Old oaks and giant pines litter the landscape and provide great shaded areas for the campground and amazing views on the trails. I would return to the Pinnacles but with a few things in mind after this experience.
The amenities that are provided are mostly geared for the RV guests. The bathrooms that are provided to the tent campers are flush but backup quite a bit. Additionally, the camper to toilet facility ration is not balanced. This does become painful clear during the summer and with a packed campground.
Wondered why the coastal sites were all booked and this was empty... Well turns out middle of summer this place is a furnace! But regardless amazing. Our site was nicely nestled in the trees which helped us escape the heat. Definitely coming back early fall to give it another go. This place is beautiful and well worth the drive or ride out.
Great campground and great park! Lots of families with kids on bikes reminiscent of my childhood. Book in advance as sites do get reserved but it's not as bad as other nat'l parks. There is a small camp store with some provisions but bring your food with you. Most of the sites looked good, lots of variety. We went in mid March and the weather was perfect - warm during the day, cool at night. "Bear" boxes are provided. There was no established place to wash dishes in or near bathrooms which confused is. Lots of great hikes and beautiful scenery within the park.
The campground store closes at 4pm. If you want to buy firewood after that time, you can put your $11 in the letter box next to the wood pile — at the entrance, close to the restrooms.
Apparently I am a 70 year-old trapped in a 30 year-old body and have discovered that I love bird watching. If you've had the some discovery, this is the place to go! Our site was fairly secluded, and we woke up to quail and wild turkey about 10 feet from our tent. We could also glimpse the condor perched in a large tree a few hundred feet from our site.
Native Americans in the Pinnacles region comprised the Chalon and Mutsun groups of the Ohlone people, who left stone artifacts in the park. These native people declined with the arrival of the Spanish in the 18th century, who brought new diseases and changes to the natives' way of life. The last Chalon had died or departed from the area by 1810.
From 1810 to 1865, when the first Anglo-American settlers arrived, the Pinnacles region was a wilderness without human use or habitation. The establishment of a Spanish mission at Soledad hastened the area's native depopulation through disease and dispersion. Archaeological surveys have found thirteen sites inhabited by native Americans, twelve of which post-date the establishment of the missions. One site is believed to be about 2000 years old.
By the 1880s the Pinnacles, then known as the Palisades, were visited by picnickers from the surrounding communities who would explore the caves and camp. The first account of the Pinnacles region appeared in print in 1881, describing the Balconies area. Between 1889 and 1891, newspaper articles shifted from describing excursions to the "Palisades" to calling them the "Pinnacles." Interest in the area rose to the point that the Hollister Free Lance sent a reporter to the Pinnacles, followed two months later by a party of local officials. Investors came from San Francisco to consider placing a resort hotel there, but the speculation came to nothing. In 1894 a post office was established in Bear Valley. Schuyler Hain was the postmaster. Since there was at least one other Bear Valley in California, the post office was named "Cook" after Mrs. Hain's maiden name. In 1924 the post office was renamed "Pinnacles."
Schuyler Hain was a homesteader who arrived in the Pinnacles area in 1891 from Michigan, following his parents and eight siblings to Bear Valley. His cousin, A.W. White, was a student at Stanford University, and White brought one of his professors to see the Pinnacles in 1893. Dr. Gilbert was impressed by the scenery, and his comments inspired Hain to publicize the region. Hain led tours to Bear Valley and through the caves, advocating the preservation of the Pinnacles. Hain's efforts resulted in a 1904 visit by Stanford president David Starr Jordan, who contacted Fresno Congressman James C. Needham. Jordan and Needham in turn influenced Gifford Pinchot to advocate the establishment of the Pinnacles Forest Reserve to President Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt proclaimed the establishment on July 8, 1906. Pinchot, who was primarily interested in the management of forests for productive use rather than for preservation, advocated the use of the recently passed Antiquities Act to designate the scenic core of the area as Pinnacles National Monument, which was done by Roosevelt on January 16, 1908. This designation nominally passed control of the Pinnacles from the Department of Agriculture to the Department of the Interior, but the U.S. Forest Service retained effective control of the area until circa 1911
In his efforts to promote the Pinnacles, Hain became convinced that the Pinnacles were an "extraordinary mountain" described by Captain George Vancouver and pictured by John Sykes in his book Voyage of Discovery, which documented the Vancouver Expedition. Hain began to refer to the mountain as "Vancouver's Pinnacles," a term that was picked up by Sunset in a 1903 article. References to "Vancouver's Pinnacles" persisted until 1955, when analysis of the Sykes picture indicated that the mountain described by Vancouver was actually located near Fort Ord, within easy reach of the day trip described by Vancouver.