Pinnacles’ caves are nothing like the limestone caverns found in many places in the U.S. Technically, they are not caves at all. Over thousands of years, running water slowly eroded deep and narrow chasms amid the Pinnacles’ giant rocks. Huge chunks of these rocks fragmented, broke off, and fell into the chasms. Sometimes these rocks were too large to fit inside, so they were caught, forming a “roof” and creating these rocky tunnels, known as talus caves.
“Wow, it’s dark in here.”
The park has two sets of these caves open to visitors. Balconies Caves, on the park’s west side, stay open year-round, except after very heavy winter rains (call ahead to check status). Bear Gulch Caves, on the park’s east side, are sometimes closed to are protect the Townsend’s big-eared bats that live and rear their young (usually mid-May to mid-July, when the caves typically close). Check status in advance.
No matter where you want to explore, no spelunking skills are needed, but bring your sense of adventure. As you enter, turn on your headlamp (or cell phone light), then squeeze through narrow clefts, duck under ledges, and twist through narrow passageways. Listen and see if you catch your fellow visitors saying this common refrain: “Wow, it’s dark in here.” Yup.