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Bear Gulch Cave to Remain Partially Open Through Winter

Pinnacles National Monument will open the entire Bear Gulch Cave to public access from Sunday, October 24th through Sunday, October 31st, 2004. Beginning Monday, November 1st, more than half of the cave will remain open through the winter.

The entire cave is opened seasonally when the majority of the colony of Townsend's Big-eared bats, a California species of special concern, have left the cave. These bats use the cave as a place to raise their pups during the summer and hibernate in the winter and spring.

A gate was recently constructed that will allow hikers to explore the lower half of the cave without disturbing the hibernating colony of bats. This portion of the Bear Gulch Cave will be open from mid-July through mid-May every year, except during periods of high water. The entire cave will be closed in the early summer for pupping season.

This winter, the Monument will complete the construction of a new trail that will allow hikers to enter the caveís lower section, exit midway through near the newly constructed gate and then continue on to the reservoir. Until then, hikers in the lower portion of the cave can explore to the new gate and will then need to backtrack through the cave to exit.

The entire Bear Gulch Cave will continue to be open twice each year, for at least one week and up to four weeks, in March and October, depending on the presence of the colony of bats.

The trip through the Bear Gulch Cave is part of a moderate two-mile round trip walk that begins on the east side of the Monument. Flashlights are required, and 1 to 2 liters of drinking water is recommended. Visitors are encouraged to carpool or hike into the park on weekends.

Another talus cave, the Balconies Cave, is open year-round except during times of heavy rainfall. It can be reached most easily through the Monumentís west entrance.

When visiting Pinnacles National Monument, please be aware that no concession services or gas stations are available in the park.

For more information please contact the Bear Gulch Visitor Center at (831) 389-4485 ext. 0 or visit our web pages.

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