PRETTY PINNACLES: The rocks probably don't know that things changed for them today, a day that's probably very much like yesterday for them, and all of the past yesterdays of the last few millennia (rocks are pretty constant, save the whole eroding thing). But Pinnacles National Monument, which is in the Salinas Valley, is indeed having a special day: President Obama signed an order making the national monument a national park. It would be untrue to say that national parks are few and far between -- there are 59 as of today -- but there are nearly 400 national park areas in all, encompassing monuments and historic sites and lakeshores and other stretches of significance and deserving of our care and affection. So call the parks themselves something of a special class, and call Pinnacles its newest member.
SPIRE LANDSCAPE: Pinnacles predates the national park service by a few years, give or take a million (the park service officially came into being in 1916; Pinnacles "are the spectacular remains of an ancient volcanic field"). Spires are a prominent feature of the 38.3-square-miles expanse, but the official National Park Service page highlights the canyons and monoliths, too. Rocky grandeur at its photo-ready fineness.
NEW NATIONAL PARK: What does this change for Pinnacles? The spires will keep being spectacular and the wilderness will be wild. But a number of people set out to visit all of the national parks in their lifetime, so we imagine they've had to pull out those lists at this news. It's a happy addition to make, though, and it will certainly draw even those day-trippers who've done Yosemite and Death Valley but want to add another California-based park to their personal rosters.