The Golden State's Beautiful Bats

Look up. What's that fluttering in the distance?

BATS ARE VERY MUCH ON POINT... when late October arrives, though whether the bat in question is a piece of equipment being swung in the World Series, or the bat is fluttering over a copse of trees in the distance, all depends on further information. So here's that further information now, with no more fooling or anticipation: The bats we're speaking about are often seen in caves, not stadiums, and they fly (though stadium bats can, too, at least for a few seconds). Of course, bats are a popular sight during the Halloween season, serving, as they do, as a major icon of spooky decorations. But if you're longing to see the real thing, outside of Halloween banners and balloons and tablecloths and greeting cards, you only really need to take a look around, should you call the Golden State home. The winged mammals can be found in places hither and yon, from canyons to hillsides to deserts, and in great variety, too. We may not boast a Carlsbad Caverns situation nearby, nor Austin's Congress Avenue Bridge, two places rightfully famous for the flying beasties and their epic, air-swirly, watch-in-wonder flight patterns. But some of our regional national parks and monuments are home to a caboodle of big-eared critters, and, if you're there at the right moment, you just might be able to see a few silhouetted against the evening sky, a sight as mysterious and lovely as sights in nature come. 

PINNACLES NATIONAL PARK, the country's newest national park, offers an impressive showing on the bat front. "Out of 23 species of bats in California, 14 species are known to occur within Pinnacles National Park," reveals the park's official NPS site. Among the residents of the centrally located destination? The Hoary Bat, the Pallid Bat, and the Western Pipstrelle. And up north, near the tippy-top of our lengthy state, some 14 species of bats -- much like Pinnacles -- call the Lava Beds National Monument home. Hibernation, migration, and other time-immemorial rules of living govern a bat's life, so read up on the bat facts before making for a national park to see these cool creatures roaming the skies at twilight. And be aware that sometimes a little luck and timing need to come into play before you spy something aflutter in the distance; that's part of the mystery and draw of these animals.

FIND YOUR WAY THERE: Are you lacking in a bat's BFF, her amazing sense of echolocation? Find your route to Pinnacles or Lava Beds via the help of a map or two.

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