Pinnacles Campground is located in the unique Pinnacles National Park, 32 miles south of Hollister, California.
Pinnacles National Park camping encompasses 26,000 acres of spectacular rock formations and remnants of an extinct 23 million-year old volcano.
Hiking and rock climbing are very popular activities in Pinnacles, as is watching for the majestic California condor overhead. Pinnacles National Park is a nesting place for the endangered soaring bird, the largest in North America.
Pinnacles National Park has more than 30 miles of trails, ranging from easy to strenuous. Many trails intersect, allowing for a short loop or a longer all-day hike. Popular destinations include Bear Gulch Reservoir, High Peaks and the Balconies area. The Bench Trail provides direct access to the park from the campground.
Visitors enjoy exploring Balconies Cave and Bear Gulch Cave, which houses a large colony of Townsend's big-eared bats. Bring a flashlight!
Rock climbers flock to Pinnacles for the variety of climbing routes that range from easy top-ropes to the multi-pitch climbs along Machete Ridge.
Pinnacles Campground is located on the eastern side of the park and is open year-round. It offers family and group tent sites, as well as RV sites with electric hookups. Roads and parking spurs are gravel. Flush toilets and drinking water are provided. Showers are available for a fee. A general store with basic foods and camping supplies is located on-site. A swimming pool is located within the campground and is open from April through September.
The campground is situated in a rolling landscape dotted with shady Valley Oak, Blue Oak and Coast Live Oak trees. A gentle, seasonal creek runs through the grounds.
Springtime finds Pinnacles bursting with a wide variety of vivid wildflowers that line every trail and fill entire meadows with color.
Deer and wild turkeys roam the area, and condors can be viewed from within the campground. The park ranges in elevation from 824 feet along South Chalone Creek to 3,304 feet atop North Chalone Peak.
ADA Access: N
I have to admit, I didn't even know Pinnacles NP exsisted. I'm glad I saw the sign and venture to check it out. It’s a beautiful park and has the largest population of California Condors in the world.
The campground is situated about 2.3 miles from the main trailheads. There's tent and RV campsites. It's a good campground with the NP visitor center located within the campground.
Note: There's only 30Amp service at the RV sites. Bring an adapter if you only have 50 or 20Amps.
CAMPFIRES ARE NOT ALLOWED HERE. Not even in the fire rings at each site!
We enjoyed seeing LOTS of wildlife in Pinnacles from our campsite: California quail scurrying up a hill, mule deer, and raptors of all kinds. Lots of nocturnal animal activity!
But the campsites themselves were dispersed around a parking lot -- not much more to it, and very little shade or barrier between sites. Quiet hours were not enforced at all. People were loud through the night.
Wrong name was written on our placard so we worried all night that someone would accuse us of taking their spot, even though we had reserved. and pre-paid for the one we were in. Camping host was indifferent to this error.
Great National Park, though, and seemed to be the only camping option in the area.
The campground has well spaced spots nice bathrooms but horrible pay showers, definitely bring your shower shoes. The rv spots have electric hookups but no water or sewer. Very warm in summer no fires allowed. If you are looking to explore the caves March or October is when they are fully open. The park gets quite busy on weekends, parking lots at the trails are usually full by 10am, make sure you get an early start.
Summer is not the best time to go. It gets hot and you can’t have fires I went in late June and it was bearable to do an early hike, but bat caves may be closed in summer. That said the nights were beautiful full of stars and warm. They have a pool that will be full of kids but feels really refreshing after a hot hike. There was a lot of wildlife. Some sites are close together, but not all so check them carefully. There were big Oaks in most campsites that offer some shade. The bathrooms were fine, but the showers really needed some help.
This campground was perfect for a large group camping trip! We were there during the week so it was pretty quiet and we had free range to play at night in the area.
The group sites were large enough to fit a group of 15-20 and were spaced far apart enough to have your own space. There was shade and great parking spots. There was trash receptacles scattered around the area, and there were were bathrooms easily accessed.
The hiking was filled with incredible views and there were plenty of spaces to climb and have stunning views for a day in the park.
The general store and pool was perfect after a long day of hiking.
Make sure you check out the bat caves and keep your food stored properly, little critters do roam the campground.
This National Park is unlike many we have stayed at in that they do have showers, a swimming pool, a store, lots of amenities, getting there is the hard part as it is in a very remote part of California. The park is known for the California condors and our hike didn’t disappoint as we saw many. The hike to the high peak was crazy!
This is really the only campground in the NP. It's within a few miles to the major trails and caves. The spots are more private and you will see lots of wildlife in there too!
Two campgrounds: tent sites with no hookups and an RV Loop with electric. We chose the latter since we are having problems with our solar. Several sites are not open due to damage (storms, vandalism, not sure why) and the ones that are open could still use a little sprucing up. We were in site 112 which had the advantage of shade from a huge oak tree. Since the three sites to our left were closed and the one to our right was not occupied, it felt private but if all sites were open and occupied, there would not be much privacy between sites. 116 looked to be the best site in this Loop. Wooden picnic table was a little warped and there was a huge hole at one corner that I tripped in more than once. We tried to re-position the table but there was no way it would budge. No bathrooms in the RV Loop but it was not that far of a walk to the flush toilets in the tent Loop. The road on the RV Loop was part paved and in fine condition but part dirt with deep ruts that were impossible to navigate around. This campground gets extra points for recycling, especially of propane canisters. The campground is located at the East entrance to the park by the Visitor center; there are no campgrounds by the west entrance and you cannot drive between the two (you can hike). Lots of hiking, Condor sightings and, in the spring, many wildflowers.
[ PROS ]
- Camping in a National Park! This is the only campground in Pinnacles National Park so you’re options are limited, but this campground is centrally located.
- Wonderful Camp Store with gear, supplies, and anything you might need for camping. They even have snacks, ice cream, and candy.
- Visitor Center where you can get lots of helpful information about the park and souvenirs to take home.
- Each sites comes with a picnic table, fire ring + grill, 2 parking spots, and bear box.
- Clean restrooms but it is shared with a lot of campers. I wish they had a few more.
- So close to wildlife! We saw 6-8 deers both days just grazing inside the campground. Site #20 is where they hung out the entire weekend. Also, lots of rabbits, owls, magpies, quail, and turkey vultures.
- Great night sky with lots of stars!
- Lot’s of hiking trails at Pinnacles National Park. We started on the East Entrance and took the Bear Gulch Cave Trail to Moses Spring Trail, to the High Peaks Trail. It was spectacular and pure magic! One of my favorite day hikes that I’ve done. The caves were so cool to see and the Bear Gulch Reservoir is gorgeous.
- Really clean and well maintained park. I normally carry a bag to pick up trash on hikes, but this time I barely saw litter.
[ CONS ]
- The only showers are by the Visitor Center which is a long walk or drive from the main camping area.
- Sites are super close together and very small. Some sites barely looked like you could put 2 small tents. Be prepared to be close to neighbors.
- Very touristy and crowded, it is a National Park afterall so that is to be expected.
- No fires were allowed when I was there.
Note: Site #45 where we stayed was great! It had a water spigot right next to us which was really convenient, and it was a perfect distance from the restroom. Not directly next to it, but one site away.
As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time. This weekend I had the opportunity to test out Beef Stew by Mountain House on a camping trip to Pinnacles Campground. As far as the product goes, I can eat this ALL DAY. It’s so good, filling, and hearty just as it is. This is as good as it gets for a quick, hot meal at the drop of a dime. It tastes just as good as a home cooked meal. Overall, just perfect comfort food -- chunky pieces of potato, peas, and carrots, the beef has great texture and generous portions, and the sauce is savory, flavorful and thick. I decided to elevate this meal and make Mountain House Campfire Beef Hand Pies! All you need is ready-to-bake biscuits and a Mountain House #10 Beef Stew Can and you have the best campfire hand pies ever! One package of Mountain House can make 16-20 hand pies. That’s 2.5 cans of ready-to-bake biscuits.
- 1 package of ready-to-bake biscuits
- 1 Mountain House #10 Beef Stew Can
- Also needed: cast iron pan vegetable oil and paper towels
- Follow instructions for making Mountain House #10 Beef Stew and set aside.
- Open the can of ready-to-bake biscuits and roll out each biscuit until they are about 4 inches in width. Make sure to work fast with the dough so that it still stays cool.
- Place 1 tbsp of Mountain House Beef Stew into the center of each circle, fold them over (like a taco) and seal the edges by using the tines of a fork, press the edges together all the way around. Try to avoid getting any of the stew sauce around the edges or else it will be more difficult to seal.
- Place 1-2 inches of oil in a cast iron pan and place on the fire over coals (or camp stove), not direct flames. Test to see if the oil is ready by dropping a couple droplets of water into the pan. If it sizzles, it’s ready to go!
- Cook the pies until the first side is well browned then flip over and repeat.
- Let the pies set on paper towels for 1 minute to drain out any excess oil.
Optional: Enjoy with salsa, sour cream, and cilantros
Considerations: If you want to prevent leaks in your hand pie, take an additional step when sealing your pies by flipping the pie over to the other side, and sealing it again with your fork. It’s a little more work, but the payoff is worth it!
It’s too hot and the caves are closed in July due to the bats giving birth. We stayed here due to having to detour from Big Sur because of the landslide that closed the 1 hwy. on our way up to Alaska.
However, it was a nice campground with a good amount of shaded RV sites with electric hookups to run AC, a lot of nearby hikes, scenic views and wildlife. We definitely want to return when it’s cooler and the caves are open to explore.