The Capper Nomads North America Adventure travel blog

Local resident

Plaza Hall

Billards room

Beautiful wooden bed

Tree growing in the plaza

San Juan Bautista Mission

Mission bells

Rolling Hills

First view of Pinnacles

Spring flowers

Another view of the Pinnacles

Just up from our campground was the small town of San Juan Bautista. Native people called the Mutsun people used to live in the area. A village called Trahtrahk (place of many springs) stood on the present day San Juan Bautista. In 1797 Father Fermin Lasuen founded Mission San Juan Bautista. Named after Saint John the Baptist the mission was established to convert the local native people to the Spanish way of life including Christianity.

After Mexico’s independence from Spain in 1821 the mission was secularised-converted from church property to private property. The town of San Juan Bautista developed and today the historic park has a mixture of adobe built buildings and classic Victorian style buildings surrounding the plaza/courtyard. The state park told the history of the local community and how it developed. We explored the Plaza Hotel, the Castro/Been Adobe, Plaza Hall/Zanetta House and the Plaza stables.

After exploring San Juan Bautista we headed to the Pinnacles National Monument. After driving through the rolling hills we came to the park. We thought we would be on our own but was surpised to find so many people. When we talked to the ranger they were surprised as the previous week they had only had six visitors. Must be the sunshine that brought people out. To get away from the crowds we decided to take the Bench Trail and then the Bear Gulch Trail to get views of the pinnacles.

The pinnacles are the spectacular remains of part of an ancient volcano. The other part of the volcano lies 195 miles to the southeast. About 23 million years ago the Pinnacles volcano was born. It is believed to have been 15 miles long and 8,000 feet high. As the Pacific plate crept north, it split the volcano and carried two thirds of the Pinnacles volcanic mass. On the Pinnacles slow journey, the mass sank beneath the surface. Over time wind,rain and ice exposed the old volcano, eroded the rubble and fashioned the spires and caves seen today.

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