Pinnacles Becomes the 59th U.S. National Park

The United States now has 59 national parks, with the addition of Pinnacles National Park in 2013.

Pinnacles, located in California about 80 miles south of San Francisco, was designated a national monument by president Theodore Roosevelt more than a century ago. But Congress approved its upgrade to national park status in 2012, and president Barack Obama signed it into law on January 10, 2013.

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It's the first new national park in the U.S. since 2004, when Great Sand Dunes in Colorado was upgraded under former president George W. Bush. Pinnacles is the third national park created since 2000.

Pinnacles, located about 80 miles south of San Francisco, protects the remains of an ancient volcanic field, complete with monoliths, spires, sheer-walled canyons and more.

It's also a release site for the endangered California condor bird. About 32 of the criticially endangered birds live at Pinnacles, a large percentage of the remaining wild population.

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Pinnacles is known to outdoor enthusiasts for its hiking and rock climbing. More than 30 miles of hiking trails cover the park, and hundreds of rock climbing routes exist. In addition, two talus caves in the park are popular.

The new park is California's ninth national park, more than any other state in the U.S. In addition to Pinnacles, national parks in California include Yosemite, Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Redwood, Lassen Volcanic, Channel Islands, Death Valley and Joshua Tree.

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