What to Do
Monterey County offers a wealth of recreational opportunities easily accessible to Gonzales residents and visitors. The nearby Pinnacles National Park, the Arroyo Seco River, campgrounds, and recreation area, and San Lorenzo Park in King City offer hiking and camping facilities. Lakes San Antonio and Nacimiento are popular destinations for boating, hiking, and camping. Laguna Seca Recreation Area is the site of concerts, world class car and motorcycle racing. The San Antonio and Soledad Missions offer a glimpse back to the early days of California.
Tours and tastings of local wines can be explored at: Constellation Brands, Robert Talbott, Pisoni Vineyards, Boekenoogen Winery, and Salinas Valley Vineyards.
The view traveling on Highway 101 is a patchwork quilt of farms ranging in size from 20 to several hundred acres. Continuing south-west, panoramic views open up to some of the most beautiful coastline in California. Several National, State, and local parks welcome visitors to spend the day hiking and enjoying the natural environment that locals cherish.
Pinnacles National Park, located just 24 miles southeast of Gonzales has been a longtime favorite hiking and nature viewing spot for residents of the Salinas Valley and Monterey Bay Area. If you are planning a trip to the Gonzales area, this newest park in America's rich national parks system is not to be missed. Still much undiscovered and underutilized, Pinnacles National Park offers visitors the adventure of a national park experience that hearkens back to the early beginnings of the parks system. Ample parking is available and trails are quite silent and un-impacted. There are no commercial activities or concessions to detract from the rugged beauty of the area.
Most of the region is considered "high coastal desert" and the park's back canyons and cliff-side trails can easily reach temperatures exceeding 100 degrees during the summer months. It is always recommended that visitors bring ample water for hiking regardless of the time of the year.
Pinnacles National Park is a park for every season. Spring is full of wildflowers and winter boasts waterfalls that transform and recharge the landscape. A perfect summer day can be made out of a very early morning hike (that ends before the sun hits its mid-day peak), lunch in one of the local communities followed by a visit to one of the many winery tasting rooms on the River Road Wine Trail for a taste of something light, bright, and cool. Fall hiking (favored amongst the locals) can be comfortable and enjoyable due to fair to warm mid-day temperatures that can endure even into the month of December.
There is always good bird watching throughout the day and early evening offers a chance (no guarantees) for visitors to glimpse the majestic and rare cliff dwelling California Condor with its wingspan approaching nine and a half feet. Fall cave hikers (bring a flashlight) just might be lucky enough to come upon one of the 14 known species of bat that inhabit the park. Many locals have been known to begin the day early on Thanksgiving with a brisk morning hike that brings them in contact with the peace and grateful spirit one feels when removed from a busy world to commune with nature. On many holidays, it is not unusual to see family gatherings amongst the many available picnic tables with a traditional holiday meal and "all of the trimmings." People often comment that it is a family tradition and they come back every year.
A rich history, diverse habitat and bountiful recreation opportunities await you at the Fort Ord National Monument. Another coastal gem with more than 86 miles of trails provides opportunities to hike, bike or ride your horse through rolling hills, pockets of chaparral and oak woodlands. You will see a huge diversity of plant life and animals in habitats that include stream-side corridors, grasslands, maritime chaparral, oak woodlands and seasonal pools.