Pinnacles National Park

May 5, 2019 at 10:42 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, California Central Coast, National Parks, Nature, Nature photography, Wildflowers) (, )

Owls clover, west entrance

Flowers have been blooming all over California for a couple of months, and despite the end of the rainy season, they are still going strong. Early blooms go to seed and mid- to late-season blooms replace them.

Fremont’s Star Lily

These are among the early bloomers at Pinnacles National Park. The Fremont’s star lily is in the same toxic family as the death camas, which is what I thought it was at first. The park has a nice wildflower guide on its website which set me straight. This visit was on April 15, so the landscape will look different now.

East Pinnacles

I started with the East Pinnacles entrance, which was pretty popular due to spring break campers. Even so, it was easy to find quiet spots.

I always hope to see California condors when I visit, as I did the very first time I was there four years ago at the west entrance, but I keep striking out. This is the kind of landscape that attracts them – tall cliffs and pinnacles like these seen at the east entrance. The east side had a whole different set of flowers than did the west side. Here’s a gallery of some of them.

There were some lovely birds at the picnic area at the end of the road, and shaded tables to enjoy my lunch.

Steller’s jay

There were other critters there, too.

There are also horned lizards (horny toads) there but I didn’t see any. Boo. More from the east side:

The road from King City that leads to the east entrance (and to Hollister) is also quite lovely, but not many pullouts for photography. Also, there is no sign at the turnoff to the entrance (only a sign with binoculars and “Wildlife viewing”) – very poor customer service. Also if you just want to show your senior pass or buy an ice cream, you have to wait in a time-consuming line – which I bypassed both times. (I put the ice cream back before it melted.) The bathrooms are also not immediately adjacent to the visitor center and there is no parking next to them, which is not good for handicapped people.

A lone juniper on the way to the east entrance

The drive to the west side out of Soledad took about an hour from the east side. A storm was brewing and it was very windy along Hwy 101, but amazingly was quiet once I got to the visitor center. I did a very short walk on the trail there. The overcast skies made for some good flower portraits.

Shooting stars

I had to photograph some of them quickly from the road, such as the shooting stars and paintbrush, as I didn’t see them anywhere else.

This was a nice overview of the surrounding farmland.

If I could go on a wildflower-viewing trip every day since the end of February, I could not have seen all of the amazing places in California sporting fantastic blooms. I have to content myself with the few trips I’ve been able to make, and to enjoying (and learning from) Facebook groups such as California Wildflower Tipline and California Native Plant Society. I’m always a little behind in posting, because I have a full-time job and “adult” tasks to take care of on weekends (e.g. paying taxes – ha ha), but I hope these posts inspire you to visit and protect our beautiful wild places.

Photos and text copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

Feel free to reblog or share


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