Stuck between a rock and a hard place...
"Before hiking one must..."
drink some wine! On the west side of the park is Shalone Winery - excellent Pinot Noir - we got a little too excited about it and ended up starting our hike around 4pm - WAAYYY too late during the winter dark months. Plus it was cloudy as you can see in this pic (this is the view driving into the park). This is also a good picture of the Salinas Valley - this view is looking west(ish) so the ocean is over the far mountains you see and Pinnacles in on another mountain range called Gabilan.
We took a long weekend trip to Carmel Valley: did some wine tasting, hiking in Pinnacles, shopping in the Village and ended in Monterey at the Aquarium. We stayed in Salinas on the way down (see salinas hotel tip) and stayed in Soledad which is at the base of Pinnacles Monument (at the Best Western)
Not having enough day light didn't matter much in the caves - a flashlight is essential even during daylight hours. We decided to do the Balconies Cave - some areas are so tight I was starting to feel closterphobic. But we made it through with only a few minor scratches.
"It was so beautiful"
We had to come back the next day to see it all in full glory. This is the same hike only above the cave. The hike makes a 2 mile loop.