Pinnacles National Monument, California

Steven Dutch, Professor Emeritus, Natural and Applied Sciences, University of Wisconsin - Green Bay

Although CA 146 has the same number on both sides of the monument,  it does not go through. The west side is by far the most accessible, from the town of Soledad. On the east, the nearest towns are Hollister 30 miles to the north and Coalinga, 60 miles to the east.

Apart from the crags, the monument offers typical Coast Range scenery and is a release area for California condors.

The pinnacles are rhyolite 23 million years old. The volcano, interestingly, seems to have been split by the San Andreas Fault (which runs roughly parallel to Route 25). The other half is believed to be 200 miles away north of Los Angeles. The two areas are marked by distinctive breccias.
I know there are people who claim this is their favorite place in the whole world, but this to me is a good example of a "why?" national monument. Considering that the far more scenic Castle Crags near Mount Shasta are only a state park and the Organ Mountains near Las Cruces, NM aren't a park at all*, why these rather nondescript, and frankly, drab crags rate being a national monument is puzzling. And it's an old monument, too, established in 1906.

*They were declared a National Monument by President Obama.
View on the way to the entrance.
Left and below: distant views of the pinnacles.
Below: Coast Range scenery from the entrance road.
Left and below: views of the pinnacles.
Intricately banded rhyolite
View looking southeast along the mountains.

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Created 22 June 2007, Last Update 08 June 2020