Pinnacles National Monument Nearing National Park Status

Pinnacles National Monument. | Photo: Zach Behrens/KCET
Pinnacles National Monument. | Photo: Zach Behrens/KCET

Can a slight name change draw more visitors to a park? That's what supporters of a bill just approved by the U.S. Senate are saying. On Sunday, the upper house sent name-changing legislation to the President's desk for Pinnacles National Monument, a unit already part of the National Park Service, to become Pinnacles National Park.

"Now we will attract even more Americans and visitors from around the world to enjoy this spectacular piece of California's natural and cultural heritage," said Senator Barbara Boxer, who with Congressman Sam Farr introduced the bill, in a statement. "The rugged splendor and unique wildlife at Pinnacles have long made this park one of California's greatest treasures, and this bill will ensure that it gets the recognition it deserves while also boosting the area's tourism economy."

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Located in the Central Coast region, Pinnacles is found several windy miles east of the Highway 101 city of Soledad, known for John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men." The 26,600-acre park was established as a national monument by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908, then only 2,500 acres, to preserve the unique volcanic rock formations of the Gabilan Mountains. For visitors, it hosts over 30 miles of hiking trails, a few camping sites, and areas for rock climbing. Endangered California Condors, among numerous other large birds of prey, also make it home.

The legislation also renames Pinnacles Wilderness to Hain Wilderness for Schuyler Hain, or the "Father of Pinnacles," whose conservation efforts led to Roosevelt establishing the monument.

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