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About Pinnacles Campground
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
Access
Drive In
Operator
National Park Service
Features
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ADA Accessible
Alcohol Allowed
Drinking Water
Electric Hookups
Fires Allowed
Firewood Available
Market
Pets Allowed
Phone Service
Picnic Table
Reservable
Toilets
Trash Available
Location
Pinnacles Campground is located in Pinnacles National Park in California
Latitude
36.49 N
Longitude
-121.149 W
Get Directions
Directions
Pinnacles National Park is located 32 miles south of Hollister, CA on Hwy 25 and 29 miles northeast of King City, CA on Hwy 25. Campground is located on the east side of Pinnacles National Park off Hwy 25.
21 Reviews of Pinnacles Campground
Ranger Review: Mountain House Beef Stew at Pinnacles Campground

[ 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.

Product Review

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.

Ingredients

  • 1 package of ready-to-bake biscuits
  • 1 Mountain House #10 Beef Stew Can
  • Also needed: cast iron pan vegetable oil and paper towels

Instructions

  1. Follow instructions for making Mountain House #10 Beef Stew and set aside.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
  5. Cook the pies until the first side is well browned then flip over and repeat.
  6. 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!

Not in July

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.

Well equipped and laid out camping for both tent camping and RVs

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.

Perfect car camping spot

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.

HOT in summer

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.

Great campground with lots of hiking activities

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.

Great for hiking and camping

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.

Great

Campground has running water/toilets. Hot showers are located near the entrance. Firewood is available from the camp host. Lots of nice spots.

Nice Campground

Pinnacles Campground is a nice campground in the middle of the Pinnacles N.P. Sites are nice, and most of them could easily fit two tents. It was fairly busy when we were here, with a lot of people and noise. Raccoons are very active here so be sure to lock all of your food away and don’t leave anything out through the night. There quite a few sites that offer good shade.

East side camping

This is a large campground (and the ONLY campground) in Pinnacles National Park. It is on the East side of the park, and you can only access it from the East side. There is no road going across the park from west to east, so expect to drive south or north in order to get to the campground if you are coming from the coast (as I was). Here’s what I like about the campground: it’s kind of spread out and it seemed that each site had a little privacy, every site has its own bear box, and some sites have trees for hammocks. Here’s what I didn’t like: the entire campground’s septic system was on the fritz and not expected to be fixed anytime soon, so all modern bathrooms were closed and porta potties were in place everywhere (and they needed tI be serviced). I also didn’t like that there was only one shower house with two showers (for women, I am am assuming 2 for men) for so many campers. I also didn’t like that the host sites were tucked back behind the pool and shower house on a spur road, making it difficult to spot (I finally found them late the second day; none too helpful either). All that said, the ranger station is right at the front of the campground, and there are great trails you can hike to or take a quick drive to from the campground. The CAVES!!!! So cool! And you have to hike the Balconies. Take at least two sources of light (cell phones do not count) and plenty of water as it gets hot in the afternoon. The coolest part was seeing 5 of the 30 or so California Condors soaring on the thermals over me on the Bear Gulch Loop.