17 Mile Drive, Carmel-by-the-Sea
The 17-Mile Drive is a scenic road through Pacific Grove and Pebble Beach, California, much of which hugs the Pacific coastline and passes famous golf courses and mansions. It also serves as the main road through the gated community of Pebble Beach.
The road runs adjacent to beaches and up into the coastal hills, providing scenic viewpoints. Travel along 17-Mile Drive takes as long as the traveler likes. There are numerous turnouts along the road to stop, take pictures, or get out and stroll along the ocean or among the trees. Each visitor receives a small map that points out some of the more scenic spots.
I was conscious that the real travel would have started once we would have left San Francisco heading east towards the Yosemite National Park, and so I have lived the time spent in nice-but-not-incredibly-wonderful-at-all places with serenity and fatalism.
Somebody told us that once you have driven through the Big Sur, nothing, in the 17 miles drive could ever impress you more.
That was true.
That road in the park, is nice, nothing more.
This road "runs" (15 miles speed limit) through a forest called Del Monte forest and a lovely rocky beach called the Pebble Beach.
Reading a illustrative paper, I learnt that the area has been discovered in the 17th century by the spanish, but the first constructions did start early in the 20th century, including the inevitable Golf Course.
The ecosystem is well preserved, as the presence of animals close to the road clearly shows.
I still remember running up and down the highway looking for accommodation and seeing the "17 Mile Drive" signs and wondering just what it was all about. When I went down there and discovered it was $10 per vehicle I turned around and left.
Next day, more knowledgeable thanks to the receptionist at the Best Western, I paid the ten dollars and headed off into the unknown (for me).
Though many have described it as "boring' and "you can see the same elsewhere for nothing"; I have to admit I thoroughly enjoyed it, so much so that I returned the next day and took Rosemarie around.
There is much to see if you're of an open and enquiring mind. Ocean vistas, bird life, ocean life, golf courses, special trees (most overlook this one) and just the general atmosphere of people pulling up and having a chat.
They could have named it Seal Island and been just as correct. Both animal species cover these rocky outcrops in some numbers.
Brandt's cormorants, western gulls and brown pelicans abound here on the wing while in the water you're more likely to find California sea lions and harbour seals. If you can't see them you're bound to hear them. The interminable squabbling between males for a dominant position drones on throughout the day.
Meanwhile, on the shore the sign saying "Do Not Feed The Animals" seems to inspire tourists to do just that, much to the delight of the numerous squirrels darting in and out of the rocks.
This generally overlooked stop on 17 Mile I found interesting. It details how these trees, the Monterey Cypress, were almost wiped out by man (along with 95% of all other animals and life in California) but, in 1952, this reserve became one of the last two natural places to find these trees that grow as high as 70 ft and may live for over 300 years in an environment reliant upon fog.
Point Lobos, south of Carmel, is the other site where they can be found naturally. Having said all that, their popularity these days is such that they can be found all over the world due to propogation and their appeal.
The grove was named after a founding family of the area.
And hopefully play Pebble Beach or Spyglass.
17-Mile Drvie is actually a toll road in a park. To enter, you pay $8.50- which you can get back if you play golf at one of the courses or have a meal at one of the restaurants. The drive begins at Pacific Grove, just south of Monterey and travels right through to Carmel (we actually entered both times from Carmel). It has a wonderful scenic view of the ocean and also passes through the world famous golf courses at Pebble Beach and huge mansions. The road runs directly opposite the ocean front and there are plenty of places to stop for photographs of the beautiful scenery around you, or just stroll around at your own leisure. From the map that you receive when you pay the toll, there are 21 stop on your way through 17-Mile Drive, they are:
Poppy Hills Golf Course
The Inn & Links at Spanish Bay
The Restless Sea
Bird Rock Hunt Course
Seal Rock Picnic Area
Spyglass Hill Golf Course
Cypress Point lookout
The Lone Cypress
The Ghost Tree
The Lodge at Pebble Beach
Peter Hay Par-3 Golf Course and 100th Open 2000 Pebble Beach Monument
Pebble Beach Equestrian Center
Legendary golf courses, anything and everything with a Pebble Beach logo, living accommodations befitting royalty. There is more to the 17-Mile Drive than the spectacular meeting of land and sea, although there is plenty of that, too. This is a journey that can take you all afternoon if you let it. And, undoubtedly, you will let it. You can access this private paradise through any one of five guarded entrance gates for the price of a movie — $7.50. That entry fee includes an illustrated brochure detailing numerous scenic points of interest. There are the obvious attractions — golf courses Cypress Point, Spyglass Hill, The Links at Spanish Bay and the world-renowned Pebble Beach Golf Links; a handful of castles scattered along the 17 miles of splendor through the Del Monte Forest; and, of course, nature. As the winding road approaches the coast, turbulent surf, twisted cypress trees and herds of sunbathing sea lions swing into view. Cypress Point, a promontory with spectacular views, is the best place to view harbor seals. In the spring, they come ashore to have their pups. If it’s birds you want to see, check out the cormorants, pelicans and other shorebirds at Bird Rock. As you continue, you’ll see families of deer mingling with the golfers on the world-class fairways. Fanshell Beach is a popular place to stop for a picnic and catch a few rays, just below its guardian “fanshell house” designed by Frank Lloyd Wright disciple Mark Mills. However, rough surf makes all beaches along the route unsafe for swimming, with Point Joe a particularly rugged shoreline.
the 17 mile drive is one of the most wonderful attractions in Monterey County. This is a private enclave straddling the Pacific Grove, Monterey and Carmel Towns and is where the world famous pebble beach golf course, home of the US Open, is located. It also has the less expensive Spy Glass Hill Golf Course plus other assorted areas of Interest like the rocky outcroppings along the drive in the beaches, the famous lone cypress, the Spanish Bay and more. The 17 mile drive provides vistas of golf courses including Spyglass Hill, Cypress Point and Pebble Beach. After reaching Carmel Way, and the exit to Carmel, the 17-Mile Drive then heads northeast to the Highway 68/Highway 1 interchange, where one can exit, or continue to loop along the higher vistas of 17-Mile Drive, some of which offer views from more than 600 feet above sea-level. The full loop will take you back to the Pacific Grove Gate at Sunset Drive, roughly a distance of 17 miles hence the name.
The 17-Mile Drive is a 17 miles (27 km) long scenic loop having five entrances, including one at California State Route 1 and one at Pacific Grove off Sunset Drive and you have to pay an entrance fee of $ 9.50 per person to enter it (will be free if you dine at any restaurants inside the pebble beach and have them validate your admission ticket and the guardhouse will refund the price upon exit).
One of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in California, this is a well worth the price of admission. Among the best-known landmarks along this drive is the Lone Pine. It's a registered trademark of the Pebble Beach Company. There's a sign saying so, and warning that you cannot shoot commercial photos of it, although amateur photos are OK.