Stops on the Way

The Pinnacle of a Getaway in San Benito County

Less-traveled Pinnacles National Park, a gorgeous vineyard trail and historic areas await.

One of the newest national parks, Pinnacles National Park, has yet to be discovered by the masses. But it’s home to dormant volcanoes, which are today’s pinnacles, the critically endangered California condor, three fault lines and stunning caves.

“Hollister is the gateway to Pinnacles National Park and we are so close, so it’s definitely worth the visit to explore,” says Jen Rodriguez, director of tourism and hospitality for San Benito County Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center. “From adventuring through the talus caves to catching a glimpse of the condors, there’s truly no other place like it in the world.”

Bear Gulch Reservoir in Pinnacles National Park, San Benito County
Bear Gulch Reservoir in Pinnacles National ParkSan Benito County Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center

Just 30 miles from the town of Hollister lies the park’s East Entrance where you’ll find the visitor center, campground and a ton of trails. For a moderate, family-friendly hike that’s just 2.2 miles roundtrip, take the Moses Spring to Rim Trail Loop at the Bear Gulch Day Use Area.

Afterwards, explore the area’s rolling vineyard-covered hills along the Cienega Road Wine Trail near Hollister. Stop for tastings at Eden Rift, California’s oldest continuously producing vineyard, enjoy a glass of award-winning pinot noirs at Calera and see what was once the world’s largest wine cellar spanning 4 acres at DeRose.

“The road is like driving through a Pinterest board—it’s just so gorgeous,” Rodriguez says.

Vineyards in San Benito County
Vineyards in San Benito CountySan Benito County Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center

Closer to town, sit among Manzanillo olive trees and enjoy hip, outdoor dining at The Grove where fire-pit tables create a festive ambience. Then, stroll historic downtown Hollister. The Calaveras Fault meets the San Andreas Fault near Hollister, and you can see how the seismic activity has shifted sidewalks and curbs. Pick up a map at the San Benito Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center to tour the fault’s slow work, including shifting a residential walkway two feet, so it no longer lines up with a house’s front door. When you reach Dunne Park, you’ll see the fault has created slight uplift in a north-south direction.

Don’t miss Hollister Hills State Vehicular Recreation Area, which offers four-wheel drive, ATV and motorcycle opportunities, along with hiking, biking and equestrian trails, picnic areas and camping. It straddles the San Andreas Fault in the Gabilan Mountains.

Mission San Juan Bautista in San Benita County
Mission San Juan BautistaDepositphotos

Mission San Juan Bautista, California’s largest mission founded on June 24, 1797, is on the main plaza of San Juan Bautista. It was the 15th mission of California’s 21 mission churches founded by the Spanish to settle California and to convert Native Americans to Christianity. The church still holds Catholic mass.

For more information:
(831) 637-5315
San Benito County Chamber
243 Sixth Street, Suite 100, Hollister, CA 95023-3988