PAICINES — Pinnacles National Park has begun to increase recreational access to the park, allowing for bike and foot traffic only as parking areas remain closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The National Park Service is using a phased approach to increase access on a park-by-park basis, while working with federal, state and local public health authorities to closely monitor the ongoing pandemic and subsequent restrictions.
Beginning May 22, Pinnacles National Park reopened access to bicycle and foot traffic on the east and west sides of the park from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday through Saturday.
“The park staff and I want to thank our visitors for their patience and understanding as we steadily and safely increase access to the park,” Superintendent Blanca Alvarez Stransky said. “This is a great opportunity to experience the park, but please come prepared to hike and/or bike to the start of trailheads normally accessible by car.”
Parking areas remain closed inside the park, located about 5 miles east of Soledad.
According to Stransky, there is limited parking on private land outside of the park’s east side, and she reminded visitors that parking on roadways outside the park is “unsafe and subject to ticketing.” Visitors are encouraged to coordinate drop-offs and pick-ups or use rideshare when accessing the park during this time.
Campers with advanced reservations can still access the park during the set hours.
In addition, entry fees are waived and restrooms are available throughout the park, with park trails open to foot traffic only. Pinnacles Camp Store remains open as well.
Other Pinnacles facilities and services, however, continue to be closed over public health concerns. These include the park shuttle; all NPS public buildings except bathrooms; portions of the High Peaks Trail; Bear Gulch and Balcony Caves; and walk-up camping.
“At Pinnacles National Park, our operational approach will be to examine each facility function and service provided to ensure those operations comply with current public health guidance, and will be regularly monitored,” according to a Pinnacles news release May 22. “We continue to work closely with the NPS Office of Public Health using CDC guidance to ensure public and workspaces are safe and clean for visitors, employees, partners and volunteers.
“While these areas are accessible for visitors to enjoy, a return to full operations will continue to be phased and services may be limited,” the release continued. “When recreating, the public should follow local area health orders, practice Leave No Trace principles, avoid crowding and avoid high-risk outdoor activities.”
Stransky said the park will continue to monitor all park functions to ensure that visitors adhere to CDC guidance for mitigating risks associated with the transmission of Covid-19, and take any additional steps necessary to protect public health.