Driving along the Pacific Coast Highway is perhaps the number one attraction in a state full to the brim with both natural and man made wonders. There is something about the rare combination of mountains and ocean that even the most jaded cannot resist especially when they are as accessible as this. You could literally never get out of your car and be treated with one beautiful vista after another. Just the view of the road itself as it hugs the steep walls of the mountainside on one side and endless blue waters on the other is enough to take your breath away.
While driving along the Pacific Coast Highway is a joy, you will miss a lot by not getting out and taking at least some short walks, be they out onto a bluff or along a precipitous cliff's edge. You gain perspective but you also smell and feel the ocean air despite it being hundreds of feet below. Aside from the state parks which do charge admission, there are countless spots to get out of the car and explore. You just have to keep your eyes open and look for something that looks intriguing.
On a clear day, when you come around the bend and see this gorgeous view all stretched out before you, pull off the road into the vista point and take some time to relax. Look down at the jade-green waves as they crash against the rocks below; feel the cool ocean spray as it wafts its way up the cliff's face and high into the air; smell the salty water vapor as it mixes with the sweet aroma of sunbaked soil coming from the earth all around you. Being here for more than a few minutes is enough to make you lose track of time. I highly suggest it.
A unique and scenic way to drive to Big Sur from Hwy 101 is via Nacimiento Fergusson Road. This 20-some mile stretch of road crosses Fort Hunter-Liggett on the way from Jolon, near Highway 101, to Highway 1 south of the town of Big Sur on the Coast.
About half of the route in on Fort Hunter Liggett. Here you can stop at historic sites such as Mission San Antonio and the nearby Hearst Hacienda. This stretch also allows you to see a small, but operational military garrison, with hundreds of vehicles in motor pools, soldiers training, and tanks set up as targets at shooting ranges. Depending on the security condition, the fort may not always be open for through traffic, so be sure to call ahead.
The Big Sur side of the Nacimiento Fergusson Road runs through the Los Padres National Forest. This section of the route is more scenic, and it includes some steep stretches of mountain road, views over big valleys, campgrounds, hiking trails, and most impressively a dramatic and picturesque descent onto Highway 1. This stretch of road also can be closed, usually due to weather conditions or natural hazards such as rock slides or fires, so be extra sure to call ahead!
For those who live the rushes of big towns, camping in this wild nature must feel like living in Paradise.
However, I live in a very small town, and have tranquility all year around, so I just passed along the coast, enjoying the views. Though we were prepared to swim, the weather, in August, didn't invite us to take off our pulls (to be entirely honest... sometimes... anoraks)
among the post card perfect views when cruising the historic Highway 1 section in the Central Coast area of Big Sur is Point Sur, which is just a few miles after the Bixby Bridge. The Point Sur is like a small hilly peninsula, connected to the Mainland by San Dunes. The Point Sur Light House was made in the 1800's as a guide to passing ships along the Central Coast so that they cannot be dragged by the rugged waves to the rugged cliffs near it as there were several ship sinkings in that period. Point Sur was a hazard for ships from the first settlement of California, and especially after the great increase in shipping in the mid-19th century, after the California Gold Rush. Many ships were wrecked there hence the construction of the Light House. There are vista points along the road where you can stop and have pictures and videos taken with point sur and light house in the background.
Below the cliffs of the Rocky Point Restaurant are some beautiful tide pools where sea otters frolic and the joining of land and sea is very dramatic.
One Parking area, you can walk to a gorgeous overlook of McWay Falls, or enjoy hiking in the redwoods on the opposite side of the road.
We didn't actually go onto Point Sur, but we spent some time viewing the peninsula from a bit farther away. If you look carefully, you can see the lighthouse flashing every few seconds.
I recently came across this house while riding south on highway 1 at Big Sur. Who owns it?
Bonsai like trees; beautiful achitecture, high on cliffs overlooking sea north of esalen institute
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