Pinnacles, The Glory Road

The proper name is La Gloria Road. It’s a dirt road connecting highway 25 to interstate 101. It goes through the mountains next to The Pinnacles.

The Pinnacles is a mountain (well, really, half a mountain…) that sat on top of the San Andreas Fault. Over time, one half got moved way north relative to the other half. Now it’s an interesting collection of sharp breaks and cliffs and “pinnacles” where the mountain was torn in half, then eroded.

While folks were wondering where I was, I was assembling my camping gear, getting the “truck” ready, and generally preparing, then doing the drive to the Pinnacles, and back; along with visiting the camping grounds.

Pinnacles National Park is an American national park protecting a mountainous area located east of the Salinas Valley in Central California, about five miles (8.0 km) east of Soledad and 80 miles (130 km) southeast of San Jose. The park’s namesakes are the eroded leftovers of the western half of an extinct volcano that has moved 200 miles (320 km) from its original location on the San Andreas Fault, embedded in a portion of the California Pacific Coast Ranges. Pinnacles is managed by the National Park Service and the majority of the park is protected as wilderness.

The national park is divided by the rock formations into East and West Divisions, connected only by foot trails. The east side has shade and water, the west has high walls. The rock formations provide for spectacular pinnacles that attract rock climbers. The park features unusual talus caves that house at least 13 species of bats. Pinnacles is most often visited in spring or fall because of the intense heat during the summer. Park lands are prime habitat for prairie falcons, and are a release site for California condors that have been hatched in captivity.

I’d had several goals in mind. One was to just check out the status of all National Parks. Another was to buy a lifetime pass. It costs $80 for Seniors. Turns out it is only sold on line at present due to the Chinese Wuhan Covid virus. Oh Kay… (See: ) You can also get a one year Senior Pass for $20.

At this time, the entrance fee at The Pinnacles (and many / most / all?) National Parks is being waved, so didn’t need it (but will get one anyway, now that I’m home). They do get you a 50% discount on camping space costs. As my next To Florida Trip will be “camping all the way” and not “Sleep is for sissys”… I’m expecting to get my money’s worth out of a pass.



As the East Entrance, Bear Gulch Visitors Center and nice campground are on the back side of the park (East side), I took highway 25 south through Hollister (Brando biker movie fame… The Wild One) which is a nice drive from Santa Clara of about 1.5 to 2 hours depending on what you like doing on the way. When looking at this map, notice the road that goes just over the top. That is La Gloria Road. (More on that later…) Then look at the diagonal printing on the right side. San Andreas Rift Zone. You are right on top of the San Andreas Fault. (if you want a giant pdf map, click this)

Pinnacles Map

Pinnacles Map

The road past the East Entrance Station up to the Bear Gulch Visitor’s Center is closed off. It is unclear if that is for maintenance or to prevent folks gathering in “crowds” at stopping points. So to go further is on foot or bike only.

FWIW, there was one raccoon out for a stroll on the road in the camp grounds (back area near number 70-something I think it was) who was nice enough to step to the side of the road to let me drive past, though he did give me a dirty look… ;-)

On the way in, I’d seen a road sign saying “Gonzales, 19 miles” that was about 4 miles short of the turn into the park (that is, itself, a 5 mile run from highway 25). It had a close-able gate with “CLOSED” on it it giant black letters on a white background, but was wired open… so probably not suited to driving when wet and all mud. This being the dry season, I figured “Might be fun”. So for the return trip, I took it.

This is La Gloria Road. It starts out with a mostly flattish and wide enough dirt section, cows and some grazing areas each side. It gradually rises to about 2500 feet elevation. Then you get suddenly shown how high up you are as it crosses into Monterey County. It then narrows and heads down 2500 feet in about 5 miles. Most places are about 1.5 cars wide, some only 1. The drop is fast and you have a sheer drop off on your passenger side (right).

I was very pleased with how the Subaru Forester did. The washboard bits (nearer the start) were a bit much until I lowered air pressure back to the recommended 29 psi. (I usually run tires very hard for better gas mileage). I’d likely have dropped to 20 (or even less) if conditions were worse.

On the very steep downhill parts, there was a little tendency to pick up speed. LOTS of brakes can lock up the front wheels of front wheel drive cars and then you slide off the cliff. Not enough brakes and you go too fast and slide off the cliff. In my old Honda, I’d use hand brake to slow via the rear wheels and a bit of gas (just a BIT) to torque steer around tight downhill corners on snow or slippy stuff. In the 4 wheel drive that didn’t really work as the motor just overpowered the rear brakes. Just using the rear brakes and staying off the gas in the corners, but adding foot brakes in the straight bits seemed to work best.

It wasn’t necessary to do that, just braking would likely be fine (if done judiciously) but I wanted to learn more about handling now instead of when needed in a panic moment ;-)

Here’s a nice video of the drive. It’s from a month ago, so about the same as now. By a motorcycle guy, so you get a little bit of lean at times, and a wave from the other motorcyclists ;-) The good thing is the sound is left quiet and natural. No music track of crap you don’t like. No narrative. Just the ride. The “interesting” bit starts at about 19 minutes in, past the cows and after the nicer more sedate bits of road. There’s the entering Monterey County sign and a squiggle of curves ahead sign. Then you are on a road where you can’t turn around, with tree tops off to your right (showing how steep the drop is).

It’s hard to get a sense of the downgrade, but at some points (about 22? minutes IIRC) you can see some road ahead to your right and below you, then realize it’s your road. You get most of the experience between 18 minutes and about 25 minutes, for those wanting a short form. At about 35 minutes you get the relief of a return to asphalt (near the Swiss Gun Club building behind the fence on your right). So about 15 minutes of Oh Dear! road. There’s also some nice views of the Salinas Valley from the top. The video doesn’t quite do them justice. (Then again, no video matches the reality of being on a mountainside looking 2500 feet down at a valley…)

After that, it was just about an hour and something of freeway back to the urban sprawl.

It was a great refresher to get away from the incredibly stupid Political Follies, the Globull Warming Scam, and all the rest. To be reminded what life is really about. To just be looking at, smelling, touching; trees, water, rocks, and having the odd wild critter inspecting your acceptability. Grounding. Literally.

I intend to do much more of this. In the last month of “cleaning up and sorting” preparatory to some home repairs and selling, I found 3 tents. I’d bought a new one each time the family got larger, so that “post quake” we’d just move into the yard. A 2 person Kelty (that they call a 3). A 3 person Coleman (that they call a 4). Then a 4 room “I don’t want to deal with this again” tent of about 200 square feet Kelty. Dividers to give 2 bedroom pods, a main area, and a “porch” where the dogs could stay ;-) (Or packs and dirty shoes). I have a Pup Tent “somewhere” from when I was single, unless it was tossed out from age and wear at some point, but some of the garage is still “to do”, so may yet surface.

Given all that kit, I figured might as well use it! So now three cars have a tent in the trunk, and two have a sleeping bag included. (Third bag didn’t survive storage and 4th went with a kid, I think…) Cooking & Lighting kits are packed for 2 cars, and the other ancillary bits are being sorted out of storage and into cars. I expect to use it on various road trips along with some “vacation days” of camping. We’ll see how that all goes over time.

I’ve done a test set-up and evaluation of each tent in the back yard. All of them are still in excellent condition (bags not so much, so spousal person sewed up a new bag for one and repaired the other). All parts present and all fabric in good condition. All zippers working.

So for those wondering why I was quiet recently, that’s why. Lots of yard time, then some campground and National Park time, then a Glory Road experience on the way home, then just laying on the bed thinking “why is this so comfortable… and what’s that part that is sore… and how do I ever get up again?” ;-)

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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10 Responses to Pinnacles, The Glory Road

  1. p.g.sharrow says:

    Good to hear you got some Real time back in the country. City time can erode your soul with it’s artificialties. After a day in the city I can’t wait to get back to our “Estate” in the woods. How do “normal” people tolerate living cheek by jowl with their neighbors.?
    Our garden is now in full production 8-) Blackberries in over abundance and the grapes are happy. Have to ask neighbors to come in and share in some of the abundance.

    Our Governor is again striving to destroy what is left of the small independent businessmen of the state and is now setting his sights on doing the same to our grand children by closing the schools, again!

    We are surrounded by Idiots ! And to really mess with my mind, Serioso actually posted a useful comment and behaved in a civil manner. Do you think maybe your blog contains a conservative virus? …pg

  2. E.M.Smith says:


    Yeah, it’s a real restorative. I hide in my garden when the city is too much…

    BTW, the rattle in the road video is a loose CB Radio bracket, per the rider. It makes a good “washboard” and bumps indicator to me! Made it more like my trip where loose stuff in the car rattled :-)

    It was fun doing it as a virtual motorcycle ride. Kinda wish I still had a bike :-)

    The world is much more real and present on a bike; immersed in it.

    Progressives have a theory of a utopia.
    Conservatives have experience of reality.

  3. p.g.sharrow says:

    I once sat in a Bar up in Cederville, a one bar town in Modoc, a cow county in the far northeast corner of California where there are families that have been there for near 200 years and so few people that they have no recorded Covid-19 cases because the nearest treatment facility is 150 miles away in other counties.
    Any way, I was entertaining my friends with lies and Sea Stories while playing dice for the pleasure of buying them drinks. Meanwhile some there were complaining about how tough it was living in Modoc, so far away from the “Real World”.
    I was getting a bit mifted at the complainers when I pipes up ” Let tell you something, I been around a third of the world and walked many paths. This living in Modoc is as good as it gets!” ” I know people that work most of their lives at jobs they hate, living in places that try their souls just so they can retire to Modoc and live a few years as god meant people to live. I can guarantee to you, Living in Modoc is as good as it gets!”
    The loudest complainer said ” pg you S.O.B.” smiled and bought the next round.

  4. E.M.Smith says:

    Once stayed in the only hotel in Little Grass Valley. About 1962? They still had crank wall phones. IIRC, there were 4 phones in town, so you needed to crank one of 4 ring patterns to get the right phone… There was a lake, hotel of about a dozen rooms, a general store of some kind, a skiing area, and a gas pump. I’m not sure who’s pump it was… Oh, and a restaurant of some sort.

    Only there one weekend with my Dad, fishing. But it has been with me ever since. One of the best bits of living on the planet. Probably all “developed” now….

  5. Nancy & John Hultquist says:

    In 1963, I think, I visited The Pinnacles.
    One side was nearly a yard (33 inches) south of the 2020 location. So they say.
    If you are in northern – really north – California, try The Brass Rail, a Basque family style restaurant, Alturas.
    I haven’t been down that way for 30 years, but reviews are still good.

  6. p.g.sharrow says:

    The Brass Rail, the best restaurant and Bar in Alturas for as long I can remember. Is the place to go if you are in Modoc County. If you are driving in Modoc, beware! it is Open Range and cattle/livestock can wander into the roads and yards at any time. Even better travel over the Warner Mountains to Surprise Valley to see a real old time western cow town that has barely changed in over 100 years. Of all the places I’ve lived, Surprise Valley is my home town 8-)…pg

  7. p.g.sharrow says:

    Guess I should add that Surprise Valley is a small 12×60 mile farming/ranching area containing 4 towns and about 1200 people total, Cederville of about 600 souls is the main town there. The valley is on the backside of a tall, 10,000 foot ridge or mountain range, along the California/Nevada border, Fairly well watered after crossing the 600 mile desert of the Great Basin from Salt Lake, it was quite a surprise to the explorers laying out the Oregon Trail. So you can say it has been a tourist stop for almost 200 years.

  8. E.M.Smith says:

    If you get a chance to run up hwy 139 from Susanville to Klamath Falls Oregon, it’s pleasant country, and you pass the Lava Beds Natjonal Park. It looks like a rock field. Flat and nothing. I went past it a couple of times before I stopped. Fascinating lava tubes underground.

    One at least has a permanent ice floor plugging it. Even in summer, being in shade, it never warms more than it freezes in winter. Then no wind so cold air just sits in the hole. There are stairs into it.

    Lake Almanor and Eagle Lake are nice too.

  9. E.M.Smith says:

    Trump announcing a surge of Federal Police into cities. Enforcement to stop shootings and restore order. Part of Operation Legend. Chicago is up next…

    Watch out for ‘splody heads among Dimocrat Mayors and Governors. Beware of frothing “journalists” and be aware that the NYT will have claims of war crimes, jack boot armies, and murder of small children “peaceful protestors” when some 17 year old rioter firebombing the Feds gats assigned to detention….

  10. H.R. says:

    E.M. – I believe President Trump is sending in the Feds to protect Federal property.

    I’ve heard that the mayors/Dems/YSM report that the Feds are driving around the city/cities, jumping out and grabbing “innocent peaceful protesters.” That’s part of the “jackboot” narrative.

    Where the Feds are deployed, they have been protecting Federal property, as they are charged by law to do.

    As for scooping up various persons off the streets, that may be true. But I’m guessing that the Feds have sufficient evidence and positive ID to warrant scooping them up to arrest and charge them. The scoopee may have been ID’d but was not arrested at the scene of some destruction or other of Federal property.

    I seriously doubt that the Feds are randomly snatching kids off the streets while aimlessly cruising around. That is a Get Trump Trap and sounds more like YSM narrative engineering to me. No one has filed any suits over “random snatchings” which tells me that the Feds are acting within the law and their purview.

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