Image description

Ensuring Excellence in
Education, Resource Stewardship, and Visitor Experiences at

Pinnacles National Park

Image description

Our Mission

Pinnacles Partnership (PIPA) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit "friends of the park" group. PIPA is key to the ability to enhance services and programs at Pinnacles National Park. The National Park staff looks to our membership for volunteer services and new ideas in designing programs and services to meet the needs of local communities. It is our mission to ensure excellence in education, resource stewardship, and visitor experiences at Pinnacles National Park.

Our History

Pinnacles Partnership is a collaborative between private citizens and National Park Service staff.  Although Pinnacles Partnership is a fairly new non-profit, the concept of private citizens working in partnership with National Park Service to protect the Pinnacles began as early as 1891.  Men with locally  notable family names, including Hain, Hermansen, Hawkins, Toy, Gould, Hecker, Milburn, Rohnert, Dowdy, Lathrop and Wayland, are the champions of an earlier story of the Pinnacles.  

Our first champion, Schuyler Hain, enters the story in 1891 when, as a young man from Michigan, he settled in Bear Valley.  The Pinnacles was a favorite picnic spot for local ranchers, and Hain would often take guests with him to view the interesting rock formations.  One of Hain’s guests was a visiting professor  from Stanford University who apparently declared that the geologic formation was the finest example of its type of scenery he had ever seen, though he had  traveled all over the world.  Subsequently, Hain began a lifelong quest to protect and preserve the Pinnacles. Hain developed a magic lantern show of hand-painted glass slides in promoting this cause and persistently invited David Starr Jordan, then president of Stanford  University, to visit the Pinnacles.  Hain’s persistence caused Jordan to send a trusted botany professor, Dr. W. R. Dudley, to visit the Pinnacles and to submit his report.  Based on Dudley’s report, Jordan was finally persuaded of the unique nature of the Pinnacles and contacted both President Roosevelt and the national director of the U.S. Forest Service. Ultimately, the Pinnacles was proclaimed a national monument in 1908.

By 1922, however, the “national monument” designation of the Pinnacles was in serious jeopardy.  The national park service had received numerous complaints concerning access charges. Apparently the only route to the caves was over private land.  A local mining company purchased the private land in 1921 and began charging for the right to cross over its land.  This “toll charge” to access public lands vexed many local citizens, including Herman Hermansen, the second champion of this story.  When Hermansen read in the local papers that the designation of the national monument status of the  Pinnacles was in jeopardy due to a “monopoly” that was legally and financially impossible to break, he wrote to the national director of the park service.  Hermansen beseeched the park service to develop another point of access to the Pinnacles on the east side via Bear Gulch, adding that the park service could thereby “circumvent Melville's inholding altogether and open up the most scenic part of the Pinnacles formation…largely inaccessible to the casual visitor…”  Ultimately, the park service was persuaded.  On May 8, 1923, Hermansen was hired as the first custodian of the Pinnacles  National Monument, and immediately began in earnest to promote his goal of public access to the Pinnacles on the east side. 

Thus enters our next champion: Washington Irving Hawkins.  (W. I. Hawkins was the third son of T.S. Hawkins.  T.S. Hawkins was a leading player in the formation of Hollister and San Benito County as well as founder of Hazel  Hawkins Hospital).  Washington Irving Hawkins served as president of the local Farm Bureau during the time Hermansen was promoting public access to the Pinnacles. The Farm Bureau raised the funds to build a road to the boundary of the east side of the Pinnacles. By April 19, 1925, these private funds, coupled with park service funds, resulted in access to the Pinnacles over public roads as far as the Moses Spring picnic area.  Earlier in 1925, W.I. Hawkins and other promoters of the Pinnacles formalized their public-private partnership with the park service by forming an entity they called, “Pinnacles National Park Association.” Our first champion, Schuyler Hain, is listed as a director of this Association along with 24 other distinguished leaders of various local communities.  These early collaborators held a BBQ in the Pinnacles in May of 1925 to celebrate their achievements.