PRESS RELEASE (approximate date:  February 13, 1998)

Pinnacles National Monument


Pinnacles National Monument remains closed to visitors due to heavy damage from last week's storms. Ongoing damage repair work and assessments indicate it may be 60 days before the park can reopen to visitors. Park roads and facilities on both the east and west sides of the monument will require extensive repairs before they can reopen to public use. The destroyed Chalone Creek Bridge must be removed before a temporary bridge can be installed to allow access to the Bear Gulch headquarters, visitor center, and residence areas. That process may take as long as a month, with installation of a permanent bridge 18 months away.

The storm destroyed the Chaparral Campground on the Monument's west side. Park Superintendent Gary Candelaria does not believe the facility should be rebuilt in its old location. "This is the second time in three years that heavy rains have damaged Chaparral," Candelaria said. "Perhaps Mother Nature is telling us we shouldn't be putting developments in creek bottoms. This time, I hope we listen to her."

Engineers from the National Park Service's Pacific West Region have already viewed park damage to estimate repair costs for roads, facilities, utilities, and trails. "We'll be working with those experts to determine how to redesign and rebuild the park's facilities and reopen to visitors" said Candelaria. "We hope interim repairs allow us to reopen the park in time for the peak of the wildflower and rock climbing seasons."

A team of Federal Highway Administration experts visited the park on Thursday and examined the collapsed Chalone Creek Bridge. They estimate it will take 30 days to install a temporary one-lane military Bailey bridge. The old bridge deck must be removed and the site prepared before that installation. Design and construction of a new bridge may take up to 18 months due to restrictions on working in the creek during streamflow periods.

The park is closed to all visitors at this time. Signs are posted and rangers will enforce the closure. The lack of drinking water, sanitary facilities, emergency assistance, and damaged state and park roads make conditions very unsafe in the park at this time. Individuals entering the park are subject to citation and fine.

For additional information, please call the temporary park headquarters at Keefer's Inn, King City, CA, 408-385-4843, room 31, between 8am and 6pm daily.