Big Sur, along the Pacific Coast Highway


Continue north from Morro Bay, and all of a sudden, you’re in the mountains of Big Sur.  The first pull-off after you begin your climb up from sea level provides a few great views.

view of pacific ocean from pacific coast highway, big sur mountains

You’re obliged to take some pictures here, even though you’ll have many more opportunities, just up the Pacific Coast Highway.

view of pacific coast

A little further…

pacific coast highway along the big sur mountainside

From here on to Monterrey, the Pacific Coast Highway clings to the hillside, curving in and out into every canyon.  On almost every outside curve, you’ll find room to pull off and take in the view.

roadside turnou on the pacific coast highway

At this point, Monterey is a lot farther away than you might think.  Even if you’re an excellent driver on curvy roads, you’ll have to slow down drastically on every turn.  Expect to cover no more than 25 miles during an hour of driving.

rocky coast, pacific coast highway

Once every few years, heavy rains will wash sections of Highway 1 into the Pacific ocean.  You’ll constantly see signs of where the highway has been rebuilt or reinforced.

Find out if any section of the Pacific Coast Highway is closed, before you set out on your trip, by checking the CalTrans website. Under check current highway conditions,  enter in route “1”.  CalTrans will provide you with all construction, detours, and closures for the entire Pacific Coast Highway.

fence along the pacific coast highway

pacific ocean and rock

At about this point, I began to realize I had a problem: the sun was way too low in the sky, and I had much too far to travel.  There are almost no motels in the Big Sur range.  So, I started picking up the pace.

Near Nacimiento Road

big sur mountains and coastline

Just a few miles before the turn-off to Nacimiento Road, you’ll find a wide pull-off area on the ocean side of the road.  The parking area just off the Pacific Coast Highway provides easy access to some great views of the Big Sur Mountains and coastline.

beach along pacific coast highway, in the big sur mountains

Notice that small beach down below?  That’s our next stop.  A small road drops down from the parking area, underneath the Hwy. 1 bridge, down to the pebble-lined shore.

pacific coast highway, rocky beach

The tide can be a little tricky here, and I almost ended up wet, as the waves crashed towards me.  Had a big one hit the beach, I would have had nowhere to go.

rocky beach, turnout in the big sur mountains

Another shot from the shore.

seagull on the pacific beach

One of my favorite pictures from the trip.

Note: This trip was first published in 2004.

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