Sunday, December 13, 2015

A Nor-Cal weekend Part 2 : Pinnacles National Park + Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

Sitting on one of the sandstone formations in Point Lobos!
            When it comes to vacation, Mr. Lovey and I are park people. I imagine it's because we've had our share of city living. Between the two of us, NYC, Chicago, Boston, and SF have been home at some point! Lucky for us, California has an amazing selection of National Parks, and natural wonders. Hence for part 2 of my NorCal weekend (you can read part 1 here), I have a few park pictures to share with you today!

            With a weekend trip, time is of the essence. Initially, I had hoped to re-visit Yosemite, as it's a quintessential National Park, however at this time of year, it's largely closed. Instead, Mr. Lovey and I decided to focus in on Pinnacles National Park (the newest NP!), as well as make a quick morning stop and Point Lobos State Park in Monterey.

The coastline here was absolutely gorgeous! That and you'll get to spot the occasional sea lion or sea otter.
1. Point Lobos State Natural Reserve - is a beautiful park within Monterey county. (You've probably heard of Monterey Bay as being one of the most beautiful pieces of California shoreline. The park has a gorgeous shoreline trail that makes for a nice morning stroll (or run), as well as a cover for scuba divers.

         Along the shoreline, you can soak in all the breathtaking hues of marine blue. It's a great spot for wildlife as well. At the little cove above, we heard the barks of sea lions, and even a couple basking in the sun and swimming in the surf. The park is said to have sea otters as well (sea otters are the cutest!), though I didn't personally see any that day. I'd recommend bringing binoculars, if you have a pair. We didn't think to bring them, but we noticed a number of people who'd brought them for a better view of the wildlife.

The shores are lined with pretty, variegated sandstone formations!
          As a side note, I actually hadn't planned on a hike, so I ended up walking the trail in my suede J.Crew flats. It probably wasn't the best choice of footwear, but other than collecting some dust and pebbles, they worked out reasonably well!

2. Pinnacles National Park - is the newest national park in the U.S.. Previously it had been a National Monument, but was upgraded in 2013! The park's variegated terrain formed as a result of multiple volcanic eruptions that occurred some 23 million years ago.

        The park itself has convenient proximity to the more urban San Francisco and Monterey Bay areas. Interestingly, unlike most other National Parks, it's most popular in the cooler months (as summer temperatures can be extreme), making it perfect for my December trip!

It's a good idea to wear a helmet, in case rocks rain down from above! (Incidentally, they don't protect your face, as I found out the hard way...)
          As Pinnacles National Park (given its name) is a great climbing destination, we decided to enlist the help of a guide through Outdoor Adventure Club! We ended up having a fantastic time; our guide Eric set up a number of top-roped routes for us to try, in addition to a 100 ft (or so) rappel down a cliff. From a climbing perspective, the conglomerate rock can be a bit hard on the hands, but it makes for some pretty fun features.

        I'd definitely recommend a climb here if you have time. A lot of local climbers enjoy the spot in winter, as other popular destination like Yosemite are less available. With a guide, it's accessible to outdoor  beginners as well. For non-climbers, there are a lot of hiking trails throughout the park, including a couple cave routes!

As you can see, a lot of great potential climbs in Bear Gulch! 
         Both Pinnacles National Park and Point Lobos State Natural Reserve were unexpectedly gorgeous stops on my weekend trip to NorCal (see part 1 in San Francisco here). Both are beautiful stops for a winter weekend trip! There's so much to do in the region, I'd love to visit again. I'd definitely love to trek up Half Dome in Yosemite, as well as visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium, amongst other things!

        Thanks for reading! What parks have you visited recently? Which would you recommend?

Love, Dovey.

1 comment:

  1. Gorgeous photos Dovey! Looks like it was an awesome vacation :) Best wishes for 2016!


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