Pinnacles may be the nation's newest national park, but President Theodore Roosevelt recognized the uniqueness of this ancient volcano—its jagged spires and monoliths thrusting upward from chaparral-covered mountains—when he made it a national monument in 1908. Legends abound of robbers and banditos who used the park's talus caves as hideouts, though the most famous denizens of Pinnacles these days are the magnificent California condors that thrive in its wilderness. The bustling Bay Area is only about two hours away, but the outside world seems to recede even before you reach the entrance gates.
- Condor encounters There are only 240 California condors alive in the wild today, and Pinnacles is home to more than 30 of the critically endangered bird.
- Cave exploring The park contains two talus caves—a unique type of cave formed when boulders fall into narrow canyons, creating ceilings, passageways, and small rooms.
- Hiking the pinnacles There aren't many roads, so the best way to see the otherworldly rock formations of the ancient volcano found in the middle of the park is to hike the more than 30 miles of trails.
- Climbing sans crowds Despite achieving National Park status a few years back, Pinnacles has a remote location, so it gets far fewer visitors than parks like Yosemite, leaving the hundreds of rock-climbing routes crowd-free.
- Star appeal Far from cities, the park is a popular stargazing destination, especially during the annual Perseid meteor shower.