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Classic Adventures in the National Parks: High Peaks Loop

Pinnacles National Park

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High Peaks Loop
Pass the Bear Gulch Reservoir and its open skies on the High Peaks Loop. Photo by: David H. Collier

You don’t have to be a birder to appreciate the thrill of spotting a raptor soaring overhead, but if you are, then the California condor may as well be the holy grail. The largest birds in North America, these guys—that look like a cross between a vulture and a pterodactyl—are still considered critically endangered, but an estimated 36 call Pinnacles and its array of volcanic canyons and spires home. Try to spy one on the 6.7-mile High Peaks Loop; morning is best, when the birds are most active. These condors are hard to miss (they have 10-foot wingspans, after all), but look for the white triangles on the undersides of their wings to make a positive I.D. No luck? At least you saw yellow-billed magpies, prairie falcons, and California thrashers along the way.

Trailhead Bear Gulch Season Year-round Permit None