Fremont's Peak was an iconic landmark in John Steinbeck's life, and his return to it in Travels With Charley was bittersweet. It would be the last time he would see his home. Named after American explorer John Fremont, the Fremont's Peak State Park continues to offer unparalleled views from the manzanita and oak laden heights of the Gabilan Range to the Monterey Bay, the San Benito Valley, the Salinas Valley, and on a clear day, the Santa Lucia Range. The park is rich with wildlife and notably features a observatory with a 30 inch telescope open to the public on designated days. Here is the State Park site and pamphlet.
For further reading on Steinbeck's last trip to Fremont's Peak, read this article by the Gilroy Dispatch.
“I drove up to Fremont’s Peak, the highest point for many miles around. I climbed the last spiky rocks to the top. Here among these blackened granite outcrops General Fremont made his stand against a Mexican army, and defeated it.”
from San Jose Public Library
Fremont Peak Observatory Map. © 1994-2013 Landon Curt Noll
“This solitary stone peak overlooks the whole of my childhood and youth, the great Salinas Valley stretching south for nearly a hundred miles, the town of Salinas where I was born now spreading like crabgrass toward the foothills.”
“I remembered how once, in that part of youth that is deeply concerned with death, I wanted to be buried on this peak where without eyes I could see everything I knew and loved, for in those days there was no world beyond the mountains. And I remembered how intensely I felt about my internment. It is strange and perhaps fortunate that when one’s time grows nearer one’s interest in it flags as death becomes a fact rather than a pageantry. Here on these high rocks my memory myth repaired itself. Charley, having explored the area, sat at my feet, his fringed ears blowing like laundry on a line. His nose, moist with curiosity, sniffed the windborne pattern of a hundred miles."