A long, long time ago — back when I was in my late teens or early 20s — I told myself that someday, I’d like to visit every National Park in the United States.
Not a bad goal, right?
Of course, I’ll never get there. Especially if they keep adding new parks to the list.
Last week, Pinnacles National Monument in California became Pinnacles National Park. This makes it our 59th national park — the ninth national park in California alone. (I’ll never make it to all of them!)
“Like other national parks across our country, Pinnacles not only takes visitors’ breaths away with its natural beauty, but it also provides opportunities for outdoor recreation and supports economic growth and jobs in the local community,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.
In 2012, Pinnacles saw more than 343,000 visitors, who spent $4.8 million and supported 48 jobs in the local economy, Salazar added.
Located near the San Andreas Fault in the Gabilan Mountains east of central California’s Salinas Valley, Pinnacles is a living example of tectonic plate movement. The Pinnacles rocks are part of a volcanic field born 23 million years ago near present-day Lancaster, Calif., some 195 miles southeast. The San Andreas Fault split the volcanic field as the Pacific Plate crept north, delivering the Pinnacles to its present location.
The park encompasses 27,000 acres of wild lands, where visitors can see massive monoliths, spires, cave passages and canyons. Climbers are especially attracted to the rock formations, and every spring the landscape busts out into a spring display that attracts more than 400 species of native bees.
The park also provides habitat for 63 endangered California condors.
“Pinnacles National Monument has long been a shining example of California’s unique ecosystem, geology and unrivaled beauty,” said California Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird.