Spring Camping At Pinnacles National Monument


spring_flowersIf you are ever near the Bay Area in northern California, Pinnacles National Monument should be on your list of parks to visit for camping.  It’s very Utah-esk.  Towering red pinnacles that remind me of Bryce Canyon’s hoodoos are part of this amazing landscape.  It’s something that you would never expect in area that is made up  of rugged coastal mountains dotted with oak trees.  In the winter, it’s  a haven for rock climbers,  hikers, and campers.  In the summer, I imagine it’s a desert or at least deserted.  I have been advised by many people to never visit there in the summer as the temperature peaks at over 100 degrees Fahrenheit on most summer days.

I was checking the weather for some warm weather for a March spring camping trip to  Pinnacles National Monument in Northern California.  I loaded up our white Ford Club wagon and made the drive early Sunday morning.  By the time that we arrived at 11 AM, it was hot and sunny.  It must have been at least 70 degrees.  Perfect hiking weather.

The park is famous for it’s small caves that you can hike through unless the bats happen to be “hanging” out.  When the bats are inside the cave, you can walk part ways into them.

The campground is nice and spacious.  We had an end campsite with no neighbors.  The tent sites have lots of trees and most are either at the edge of the woods or facing a ravine with a dry creek running through.  The RV sites are wide open and will probably bake you with intense heat all day.

My 2 boys and myself  hiked to the caves on the Bear Gulch trail.  It was a nice and leisurely 5 mile hike with little elevation gain.  I actually got a little lost in the cave and started walking back towards the entrance.  It’s not like you can get “lost” in this cave and require a search and rescue time to bail you out.  I was so relaxed that I sort of lost track of my way to the reservoir at the end of the cave.  I wanted to continue and do a loop back to the campsite.  My 2 boys wanted to walk through the cave again.  I had enough bumping my head and scraping my back.  I had to bite my tongue and come to grips with the fact that these trips are more about my boys having fun rather than me making them have fun!

When you returned back to camp, my boys wanted to play with their water bottle rocket launcher that we built together at Christmas.  They spent a few hours playing with rockets, riding their scooters, and just being boys until dinner time.  They have a different understanding of what fun is on camping trips.  It’s never about the scenery.



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