Pinnacles National Monument became Pinnacles National Park on Monday as hundreds gathered in San Benito County for the dedication of America's 59th national park -- and first on the Central Coast.
"Today, Pinnacles is no longer a monument, it is a national park," U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said during the ceremony. "It is iconic in the same way as the Grand Canyon and Yosemite and Yellowstone and Acadia."
That might be stretching things, but Pinnacles' new status should certainly lead to increased tourism and visitation.
The 26,000-acre park near Soledad is best known for its unusual rock formations, caves and biodiversity, including some 30 endangered California condors.
Pinnacles is best visited in spring, when temperatures are still mild and the hills are green and covered with wildflowers.
California now boasts nine national parks -- one more than Alaska.
Race Judicata Fun Run
Where: Old Town Clovis
The 2013 Valley Runner of the Year Series kicks off with this 11th annual race through Old Town Clovis. The 5-kilometer main event at 8:45 a.m. is worth 10 series points.
Beneficiaries are the Sierra Challenge Express running club and San Joaquin College of Law Student Bar Association. Fees are $30 for adults on race day. Details: runsierra.org.
News & notes
-- The Chinook salmon destined for the San Joaquin River, perhaps as soon as spring 2014, will come from the Feather River Hatchery in Oroville, according to a National Marine Fisheries Service presentation last week in Chico. (They will be off-limits to anglers.) Public comments on the plan are due March 4 at email@example.com.
-- There's still room to sign up for Sunday's Introduction to Cross Country Skiing course sponsored by the Sequoia Natural History Association. Fees are $52 and include instruction and equipment. Register at (559) 565-4251.
-- For winter wilderness travelers, the Tuolumne Meadows Ski Hut is open with an ample supply of firewood and 10 bunks available on a first-come, first-served basis. Tioga Road is 100% snow covered from Crane Flat to the 9,000-foot level on the east side of Tioga Pass, and the current avalanche danger is low. Check esavalanche.org for avalanche advisories.