IMG_0823Pinnacles National Monument, a small but rugged and fascinating park about an hour outside of Salinas in northern California, is well on its way to becoming the nation’s 59th National Park.

The 26,000 acre site was named a National Monument by Theodore Roosevelt in 1908 and a bill to upgrade its status to a National Park was first introduced in 2009 by California Representative Sam Farr (D-Carmel). The bill moved forward last year after Representative Farr gained support from Republican Representative Jeff Dunham and it passed a vote in the House yesterday.

If the bill clears the Senate and is signed into law, Pinnacles would become the first new National Park since 2004’s Great Sand Dunes National Park – which was also previously a National Monument.

As we have already been discussing with the Angeles National Forest’s proposed upgrade to a National Recreation Area, increasing an existing park’s designation won’t change much about the landscape itself – but it would bring increased funding, resources, and attention from the traveling public who might otherwise pass the area by in favor of more high-profile National Parks.

The Monument’s volcanic rock formations, edge-gripping trails, excellent climbs, caves, camping and California Condors have made it an excellent draw for those in-the-know. I spent a few days there a couple of years ago and absolutely loved it – it’s especially gorgeous during a good spring wildflower bloom:

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Unfortunately, to gain bipartisan support Farr’s bill had to give up on a call to preserve and incorporate an additional 3,000 square miles of adjacent wilderness into the park. The bill’s original supporters are hoping to get the adjacent land preserved in a separate proposal.

Trails at Pinnacles:

The High Peaks Loop
Bear Gulch
Condor Gulch

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