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Newest National Park Earns Rave Reviews

January 3, 2014 by   - () Leave a Comment

Eerie jagged spires, Stonehenge-like monoliths, implausibly round boulders and otherworldly caves are just a sampling of the colossal formations at America’s newest national park. And, according to a report in the Washington Post, it’s one of the few places to glimpse the endangered California condor, the spectacular bird that resembles a robed Supreme Court justice sporting a nearly 10-foot wingspan.

“This place is full of ‘national park’ moments,” says Gavin Emmons, a wildlife biologist who has lived in Pinnacles National Monument for several years. These abundant moments explain why the place received “National Park” designation last Jan. 10. The park is hidden south of San Francisco, in the Gabilan Mountains of California’s Coast Ranges, an hour from the Pacific Ocean just east of the Salinas Valley.

Mist-ringed mountains, rolling hills, shady woodlands, cratered valleys, blossom-edge creeks, hidden waterfalls — the landscape resembles a catalogue of natural wonders populated by diverse plants that range from coast live oaks to buckwheat to larkspur and animals such as bobcats, bats, bees, red-legged frogs, white-throated swifts, yellow-billed magpies and prairie falcons.

The unique geology and tectonic-plates origin story earned Pinnacles national park status. Advocates included Salinas-based Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.) and filmmaker Ken Burns, who, as the man who made “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea,” is an ideal judge of unique landscapes.

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