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NPS is Proposing Two New West Side Trails · Entrance Fee Increases Beginning Dec 1st · April Raptor / Climbing Advisories Update

NPS is Proposing Two New West Side Trails (7/3/2015)

The National Park Service (NPS) is proposing to construct two new trails within Pinnacles National Park. Both trails would be built on the west side of the park and would begin at the West Side Visitor Contact Station (VCS). Construction of the VCS was completed in 2012 but no associated trails were built at that time. Visitors parking at the VCS currently have no way of hiking to other hiking trails within the park. The road that connects the visitor contact station and Chaparral Area is a one lane curvy road without shoulders that is unsafe for hiking.

The proposal includes construction of a one mile accessible loop trail with views of the Lyons Homestead, spring wildflowers, and the High Peaks rock formation. Another hiking trail (approximately 1.2 miles) would connect the visitor contact station with the Chaparral Area trailheads. Other minor site improvements and interpretative components are also included in the project.

The initial comment period for the scoping phase of the study will extend from June 25 through July 25, 2015. This phase is called "scoping" because with public and stakeholder input, the NPS will determine the "scope" or overall approach to the study. The NPS is hosting a public meeting to explain the study process, answer questions, gather information, and listen to public ideas and concerns. An environmental assessment (EA) is expected to be completed and released to the public in the spring.

The public meeting will be held on Wednesday, July 8, 2015, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., in the Mission Room of the Soledad High School, which is located at 425 Gabilan Drive, Soledad, CA.

The public is invited to provide comments at the public meeting, comment online or by mail at:

National Park Service
Attn:Karen Cantwell
Pinnacles West Side Trail Project
333 Bush Street, Suite 500
San Francisco, CA

For more information:

Entrance Fee Increases Beginning December 1st (5/31/2015)

Contact: Jan Lemons, (831) 389-4486 x237

Paicines, Ca. -

Starting on December 1st, Pinnacles National Park will increase entrance fees for visitors in order to fund important maintenance and improvement projects within the park.

Entrance Type Current Fee December
2015 Fee
2017 Fee
2019 Fee
Annual Pass $20 $25 $35 $50
Per Vehicle
inc. Motorcycles
$10 $15 $20 $25
Per Person $5 $10 $12 TBD

"This modest increase in fees will allow us to continue to protect, preserve and share the special places here at Pinnacles National Park with current visitors and future generations," said Pinnacles National Park's Superintendent Karen Beppler-Dorn. "After carefully considering the impact of a fee increase on visitors and community members, we came to the conclusion that this is the right course of action to improve facilities and services important to visitors."

Entrance fees have supported a wide range of projects that improve the park and visitor experiences, including rehabilitating trails and trailhead signs, developing and installing exhibits in visitor centers, improving park water systems, providing ranger-led programs, and improving ADA accessibility.

In the fall of 2014, the National Park Service conducted a nationwide review of entrance fees. To solicit public input, Pinnacles launched a civic engagement campaign in December 2014.

During the public comment period, the park received very few formal comments. But the majority supported the implementation of fees in 2015.

About the National Park Service.

More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 407 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Visit us at www.nps.gov, on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

April Raptor Monitoring / Climbing Advisories Update (4/12/2015)

Hey Everyone -

Here is an update on raptor activity at Pinnacles National Park for the 5 weeks.

Prairie falcons (PRFA) have selected nest sites and are incubating eggs. Two peregrine falcon (PEFA) pairs - one that nested last year for the tenth consecutive year at Hawkins and another that nested at Balconies for the first time in 50 years - wintered at the park. The peregrine falcon pairs have both been observed in the Hawkins and Balconies areas respectively... So far the Balconies pair has been confirmed incubating eggs, and the Hawkins pair is finishing nest site selection. A third PEFA pair has been observed sporadically at Drywall Slide and appears to be occupying the area as a feeding territory. At present the following have been documented: 8 territories with PRFA pairs, 1 more territories with at least a single prairie falcon, and the 3 PEFA territories. These are listed below:

  • Goat Rock / Resurrection Wall: PRFA pair, nest confirmed
  • Teapot Dome / Tunnel / Egg: PRFA pair, nest confirmed
  • Hawkins Peak: PEFA pair
  • General Balconies: PEFA pair, nest confirmed
  • South Balconies: PRFA pair, nest confirmed
  • Crowley Towers: PRFA pair, nest confirmed
  • Citadel: PRFA pair, likely abandoned area
  • Willow Spring Slide: PRFA pair, nest confirmed
  • Drywall Slide: PEFA pair
  • North Chalone Peak: PRFA pair, nest confirmed
  • South Chalone Peak: Single PRFA, pair likely
  • NE Section 15: PRFA pair, nest confirmed

The following territories are currently unoccupied, with no prairie falcons observed within them:

  • Pig Canyon
  • Little Pinnacles (Yaks)
  • North Balconies
  • Machete Ridge
  • Scout Peak
  • Western Front
  • Discovery Wall
  • Pipsqueak Pinnacles
  • Frog / Hand
  • Piedras Bonitas / Gargoyle / Prescribed Burn Cliffs
  • Tugboat
  • D. Soto Canyon
  • Guard Rock
  • Rocks West of Chalone Housing
  • Mating Rocks / Tugboat
  • North Wilderness Rock
  • South Wilderness Rock

In general, PRFA activity this season seems to be proceeding normally in regards to annual occupancy and courtship schedules, though overall numbers of PRFA pairs are a bit lower than average. PEFA activity has also been observed at Little Pinnacles and the Reservoir, likely representing falcons from the Hawkins pair that are hunting for pigeons and other potential prey.

Please note that climbing and hiking advisories are in effect as of January 20th. Raptor advisory signs have been placed at Hawkins, Scout, Balconies, and Little Pinnacles, to protect these sensitive species from the pressures of off-trail hiking and climbing during the upcoming nesting season. Updated raptor advisory brochures / handouts are available at the east side Pinnacles Visitor Center and the west side Visitor Contact Station. Any assistance park staff can provide in diverting visitors from advisory areas, and reporting incidents of climbers and hikers in advisory areas to law enforcement staff, is highly appreciated!

Golden eagles have also been seen regularly in and near the park over the past month. No nesting activity has been confirmed yet.

Nests have been confirmed for other raptor species as well. These include 7 red-tailed hawk nests, 2 red-shouldered hawk nests, and an American kestrel nest. Cooper's and sharp-shinned hawks are active throughout the park along riparian corridors, and are beginning to focus on potential nesting territories for late-season nesting efforts. Great-horned owls have been heard vocalizing in Condor Gulch, Bear Gulch, the Pinnacles Campground, Pig Canyon, near Scout Peak, and near Machete Ridge. Long-eared owls have been observed at the north extent of the North Wilderness Trail.

Thank you to all the staff who have continued to provide me with raptor observations; every detail on raptor behavior helps to provide a more complete picture of raptor breeding at the park. If anyone on staff wishes to report raptor observations, I would greatly appreciate it if you please fill out a wildlife observation card, and deposit it in my box in the RRM Office. Also note that Paul Johnson, Joseph Belli, Megan Gnekow, and Aly Schmidt are part of the raptor monitoring team for 2015 and will be assisting with surveys. If you can't get a hold of me for questions, feel free to ask or pass along observations to them as well.

In addition, thanks to Mike Shelley, Mike Baird, Jack Peabody, Dan Ryan, Brent Johnson, Arianna Punzalan, Rose Fielding, and Alacia Welch for raptor observations. I appreciate the support!

If you have any observations within the park to report, or any raptor-related questions, please contact me through email or extension 276. Thanks!

GAVIN EMMONS * Raptor / Condor Biologist
5000 Highway 146, Paicines, CA 95043 * 831-389-4486 x276
Pinnacles National Park

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This is where we post the details for upcoming Friends Of Pinnacles sponsored events and activities. Please check back often to see if there is anything new in which you may want to participate.

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The Park Service organizes activities and events throughout the year. For details see the Events Calendar for Pinnacles National Monument or call: (831) 389-4485 ext. 0, between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

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