PAICINES — Pinnacles National Park will close to all day-use visitors and vehicles effective Saturday and remain open only to campers with reservations in response to efforts from public health authorities to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
As of March 28, the national park, about five miles east of Soledad, will offer very limited services outside those that support visitor or resource protection. Last week National Park Service (NPS) had announced the closure of the Pinnacles’ west entrance gate as well as several trails, visitor centers and shuttle services.
“The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers and partners at Pinnacles National Park is our number one priority,” according to a NPS news release Friday. “The National Park Service is working service-wide with federal, state and local authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic. We will notify the public when we resume full operations.”
The campground, managed by the Pinnacles Recreation Company, will remain open to the public under an online reservation system only. Park officials said no walk-ins will be permitted, and reservations can be made through the website Recreation.gov.
Vehicles will not be allowed into the Pinnacles, other than the campground, and campers may access the park on foot or bicycles. Most areas of the park can be accessed by way of the Bench Trail, which starts in the campground.
Restroom facilities will also remain open and maintained, and park rangers will continue to provide emergency assistance to campers when needed.
“People who choose to visit Pinnacles National Park during this pandemic are encouraged to adhere to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local public health authorities to protect visitors and employees,” NPS stated in the news release. “As services are limited, the NPS urges visitors to continue to practice Leave No Trace principles, including pack-in and pack-out, to keep outdoor spaces safe and healthy.”
Pinnacles National Park is located on the border of Monterey and San Benito counties, both of which have reported confirmed cases of COVID-19.
As of the latest reports Friday, 32 residents in Monterey County and 14 residents in San Benito County have tested positive for the virus. Two of those individuals, one in each county, have died due to complications from the respiratory disease, while another two in San Benito have since recovered.