Pinnacles Campground is located in the unique Pinnacles National Park, 32 miles south of Hollister, California. The park 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. Natural Features: 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. Recreation: 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 Townsends 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. Facilities: 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. ACTIVITIES Climbing: Rock Climbing Interpretive Programs: Educational Programs Hiking Visitor Center: Ranger Station Wildlife Viewing Day Use Area: Amphitheater Other Recreation Concession Site: Concessions
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.
The Pinnacles can be hot so the riparian sites in the trees are my preference. Lots of bathrooms nicely spaced, each site has a metal food box, mostly to discourage the raccoons.
They have 9 first-come, first served sites if you can get there by 9:00 AM when the office opens. I was able to get one at 9:00 AM on Labor Day weekend. They even have a pool, which is really nice after a hot, dusty hike. It is not heated and is quite bracing on a 90 degree day. The office also has minimal groceries available, as well as some equipment and kitchen stuff.
Only draw back to the park is there is no backcountry camping allowed. There are plenty of trails and large parts of the park are lightly traveled but it makes for long hikes to return to the only place you can camp, in the East side campground. One really cool thing; there are tarantulas in the park and they mate in the fall so they get active in the evening. Amazing to see them in numbers.
We stayed at campground 71 at the far end of the property, which was still conveniently located near bathrooms, a close drive to showers and the visitor center/camp store. This particular campground had a animal proof food box which fit our 60l cooler perfectly. The parking is close to the picnic table, which was perfect for unloading all our gear. We stayed for a couple nights while we explored Pinnacles NP, and the only down side we’re the pesky yellow jackets 🐝. They kept interfering with our meal prep, but that’s the cost of being outdoors. Lots of shade, an ok amount of privacy. It gets busy on weekends. No fires due to fire danger.
great park for day hikes, but drive up early or there will be 0 parking. if you are camping in summer bring a shade structure just in case you land a site in sunlight. some on the spots right along the road looked really small and cramped so choose wisely! great amenities- water, restrooms, store, pool. fire restrictions are strict in summer as well starting around june.
Camped here in April, 2015. It was already very warm, but our sites were under shaded area so it was great to be outside. We were also at the end of the campground so it was more private than those in the loop. Restrooms were nearby and water was available. Picnic tables were at each site. We had a big brave raccoon lurking around our site all evening and it was annoying. It was brave enough to get on the picnic table when we were not looking. It was all over the table and around the campsite at night that we saw paw prints all over. Our friends who were sleeping on cots had a problem where the raccoon dragged a backpack in the middle of the night. So make sure to keep food in secure containers and put away at night. Other than that, it was a pleasant experience. Weather was quite warm so we hiked early to beat the heat. Trails are very exposed so you need to make sure to bring a hat, sunscreen and lots of water to hike especially in summer months. We ran into a snake and a horned toad lizard on the trails. Look out for condors too.
Being here plenty of times. My son and I have hike almost all the trails there numerous times, never gets old. People there are very friendly. There is a general store but sometime it closes before 5. Use to come here before it became a national park and there were less crowds, now you need to make reservations because the walk-in sites fill up fast. The wild life is great except for the typical raccoons that are always hungry so make sure you use the bear boxes at the campsites. The last few times we have been there we were able to have a campfire but when conditions get bad only camp-stoves are allowed. No worries if you forget something at home the general store is pretty much stocked up, they even have camp stoves. Cool thing about Pinnacles is that they have a swimming pool. As for the caves, your best bet would be to check the cave status on the Pinnacles NPS websites because the caves are sometimes closed. Get pretty hot in the summer.
Campground has running water/toilets. Hot showers are located near the entrance. Firewood is available from the camp host. Lots of nice spots.