Camping in Pinnacles National Park


One of Alex’s many strengths in life is planning ahead and snagging much-sought-after reservations. Back in the fall, he already planned for this spring camping trip to Pinnacles National Park, reserving a campsite as soon as it became available. Pinnacles is only an hour from San Jose, and yet it’s pretty underappreciated as far as national parks go. We do have nine in California, and this one ranks second to last in visitation (above Channel Islands), or 49 of 63 in the United States. The campsites, however, are still immensely popular for the spring, when the park gets its best weather (not too hot, not too cold). Despite growing up in the area, Alex had never visited before. But funny enough, this was actually my second time camping at Pinnacles; the first being with the Office of Accountability in June, 2019. It was 100 degrees, and we still did a hike in the heat. 

Springtime was indeed much nicer, with the weather a steady 70 and sunny, lots of water running through the park, and plenty of fun wildlife spotting opportunities! I was also very happy with our meal choices while camping: fried rice, a pork steak, and our favorite backpacker’s meal too. See it all below.

Love a little staycation camping trip! We try to do at least one per year.


Golden hour stroll. This seems to be an old farm…

Wildlife happy hour! Quails, turkeys, deer, and rabbits too. What a delight.

Our first meal, leftover fried rice. Pretty great.

Unfortunately we took our time getting ready for our hike the next morning and they closed the parking lots, which meant we had to hike an extra two miles just to get to the trailhead. Very sad. Oh well, I guess it’s all part of the scenic experience.

I see some of those ‘pinnacles’ they must be talking about! The park lies on the San Andreas Fault, which helped shape these volcanic formations.

Lunch break near the trailhead. The chicken pad thai is our favorite Backpacker’s Pantry meal. It has good flavor with some lime powder, and good texture with the peanuts, which is much better than most of these dehydrated meals.


The park is also known for its California Condors, a critically endangered species that has been actively brought back to the wild by conservationists. I don’t know if these were condors, but they were very large and majestic soaring overhead!


I think this is a similar hike to the one that I did in 2019, but there definitely was no water last time we were in this cave! This time it was quite watery, with some balance beam action that we had to traverse to get to the other side. It would have helped if I had actually worn waterproof hiking boots, but I did not. We made it through though!

Then we emerged at a reservoir!


Rocks on rocks on rocks.

Lovely. We made it back to the general store, and I picked out an ice cream bar as a perfect post-hike treat. Then Alex grilled up one of our pork collar steaks for dinner!

With some fresh rainbow chard that we got from the farmers market too. A feast!

What a privilege to live in California, where this is one of the least popular national parks in the whole state. Wild.

Anna Wu is a wedding and portrait photographer based in San Francisco. She compulsively documents and blogs all of her daily adventures. Follow her on instagram and view more of her professional work at