Rocky Landmarks in the West

Beacon Rock State Park and Pinnacles National Monument feature dramatic terrain and exceptional views.

Pinnacles National Monument rocky terrain, image

The national monument, in the Gabilan Range east of the Salinas Valley, encompasses the remnants of an ancient, extinct volcano.

Beacon Rock State Park
The 848-foot monolith on the Washington side of the Columbia River, 35 miles upstream from Portland, has served as a landmark to voyagers for centuries. Beacon Rock—once the core of a volcano—looks daunting, but a 1.8-mile round-trip trail eases the climb up it with switchbacks, stairs, and handrails. With every step you take, the Columbia Gorge view grows more expansive. (360) 902-8844, parks.wa.gov.

Pinnacles National Monument
Pinnacles National Monument, southeast of Salinas, Calif., could be our next national park, welcoming even more visitors to its exceptional terrain. The 26,000-acre park features rock towers, canyons, caves, and even chances to see California condors, with their wingspans up to 91/2 feet, soaring above the rugged landscape of San Benito County. (831) 389-4485, nps.gov/pinn.

Photography by Jonathan Eden/iStockPhoto

This article was first published in November 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

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