Framework

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The Salinas Valley farm town of Soledad is just five miles from the new Pinnacles National Park. Incorporated in 1921, Soledad is named for the 18th century Mission Nuestra Señora de la Soledad.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times

Residents of Soledad, where life has been largely driven by agriculture, line up for a food giveaway.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times

A woman and her children walk through a Soledad neighborhood. The town has 17,000 residents, not including inmates from the state prison there.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times

Jerry and Claudia Smith walk across Main Street in Soledad. Most retailers near downtown, a stretch of Front Street that parallels Highway 101, cater to farmworkers and their families.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times

Visitors attend a ceremony celebrating Pinnacles' new status as a national park. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, who attended the event, said Pinnacles was on par with the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone as being among the “iconic places of the United States of America.”

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times

Soledad Mayor Fred Ledesma shakes hands with Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar at the Pinnacles National Park ceremony.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times

Abigaile Keller, 8, of Bonny Doon, takes a photograph at a ceremony marking Pinnacles' new status as a national park.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, left, points to a nearby ridge at the newly named Pinnacles National Park.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times

The Pinnacles is a haven for rock climbers.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times

Pinnacles National Park, which covers about 26,000 acres, provides habitat for a number of animal species.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times

Pinnacles hosts a stunning wildflower season, 400 species of bees and more than a dozen types of bats.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times

A woodpecker works on a tree inside Pinnacles National Park.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times

A rock climber makes her descent at Pinnacles National Park.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times

Bernadette Carter, 49, of Hollister, Calif., walks through a man-made tunnel at Pinnacles National Park.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times

Carlie Domingues, in foreground, and others try to spot California condors at Pinnacles National Park, which is a release site for the endangered North American birds.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times

California condors circle the High Peaks area on a recent morning in Pinnacles National Park.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times

A national monument since 1908, Pinnacles last month was elevated to national park status thanks to lobbying by federal, state, county and local officials throughout the region.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times

A contrail can be seen above the rocks at Pinnacles National Park.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times

Officials of Soledad in the Salinas Valley hope tourists traveling to the new Pinnacles National Park nearby will visit their farm town as well, and provide a needed economic boost.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times

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Soledad’s success rests on Pinnacles

The Pinnacles’ volcanic spires and talus caves are located five miles east of Soledad, Calif., in the Gabilan Mountains. A release site for endangered California condors and a haven for rock climbers, the landscape also hosts a stunning wildflower season, 400 species of bees and more than a dozen types of bats.

A national monument since 1908, the area last month was elevated to national park status thanks to lobbying by federal, state, county and local officials throughout the region.

The change likely will benefit many communities, because national parks bring tourism. And tourism brings dollars.

Hollister, for example, sits 30 miles north of the park’s eastern entrance — and Pinnacle’s only campground.

But Soledad, whose only association for many people is the state prison located there, perhaps has the most to gain.

Read Lee Romney’s article: Soledad re-brands itself as the ‘Gateway to the Pinnacles’

2 Comments

  1. February 17, 2013, 10:09 pm

    The Prison is 7 or 8 miles to the North Near the town of Gonzales. The Prison is not in Soledad. L.A. Times please google map this one. Love your News! :)

    By: 7moonman1@gmail.com
  2. April 15, 2013, 1:20 am

    Being a Soledad native the LA times hit it right on the head. The two prisons are actually about 6-7 mi North of Soledad and about 4-5 miles South of Gonzales (depending where you live). They have always been associated with Soledad and why most people go to live there since both prisons pay well. Heck, most people wouldn’t event know about Soledad if it wasn’t for the prisons lol. Not even the Mission brings us much attention.

    By: Psquared831

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