As an alternative to the life in the big cities, a few days in the wild coast that stretches from Monterey to San Simeon is an excellent way to meet nature. Scarcely populated, and with only a few (expensive) hotels and campgrounds, tourism is concentrated along highway 1 that borders the empty mountains of Santa Lucia. With a rich biodiversity and a few protected areas, there are many viewpoints to enjoy the dramatic sights of the coast.
We travelled along Big Sur from Carmel to reach Hearst castle in San Simeon, and it was a nice experience.
Big Sur is more than a geographic region. It's a state of mind and in a state like California, the mind is capable of some amazing things. For many, this area is synonymous with the Pacific Coast Highway that runs from Ragged Point just south of the Monterrey County Line to Carmel, but restricting yourself to the asphalt is good way to miss much of what the spectacular chunk of coast has to offer. While the road does snake its way around numerous precipitous cliff hugging bends, only the hurried or unadventurous are not drawn to walk to their edge or down below to the icy rough surf of blue. With numerous places to beach comb, walk on bluffs or through dense forest, and stop to smell the wildflowers, Big Sur is understandably popular with tourist and locals alike. This sparsely populated area chuck full of state parks is a campers delight so take your time and let the salt air get in your hair, deep in your lungs, and into your soul. Big Sur is the rare gift of wondrous nature so close to civilization yet so far removed.
I liked this waterfall better than the more photographed McWay. Salmon Creek Falls is right off the freeway. Its a very short hike uphill until you start seeing boulders to the right. If you walk down toward the boulders, you get a nice view of the falls. Scramble over some more boulders (i spent a a couple steps precariously clinging to a rock) and you can even get to the pool where the waterfall ends. It feels very secluded.
Pretty little waterfall, but you can't get too close. Well, you could, but it's not allowed because you might fall and that would be bad. There's also other trails around the woods.
Very short walk from the freeway. The parking lot turnoff has a sign that says Julia Pfeiffer Park.
Oh, and the water isn't really this blue. i kinda went overboard oversaturating the pics.
The California coastline is part of the state's cultural mythology - rugged, mystical, beautiful, wreathed in mist and sunshine. Drive south from Monterey along Big Sur and you will see why it has attracted the free-spirited for centuries. Fog rolls in from the Pacific like an army of silent ghosts before retreating from the rocks. The road curves up and down, as motorbikes and even packs of dedicated cyclists whizz by, recreating dreams they have had since childhood. Big sur is the edge of America, and it is true freedom, not your stars and stripes 'yes-sir-mr-pres'dent-sir' freedom either. Phonelines and TV signals were almost non-existant here until the 1980s. Writers and artists came here to escape. It's just you and the planet (and everyone else looking for the same romantic solace).
We came in September 2006, catching cool fog and warm sunshine, driving from the Monterey peninsula down to foggy Cambria in a day, with a few photo-taking and picknicking stops on the way.
This is awesome coastal scenic route between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
It is a two way lane that hugs and winds along the coast from Monterey in the north to San Luis Obispo in the south with Big Sur, Los Padres National Forest and San Simeon (Hearst Castle fame) in between.
Take short stops and view the incredible cliffs, rocks and waves below.
Big Sur is perhap one of the most beautiful regions of California with miles of rugged coastline. There are hiking trails, camping facilities and hotels (although it's wise to book in advance). Allow for plenty of time to drive this route as you'll stop a lot! We chose to stay in San Simeon/Cambria as accommodation is slightly cheaper and it's just south of where Big Sur actually starts.
The Big Sur Coastline south of Monterey is undoubtably the most spectacular coastline in the 48 states. Around here, you can find waves crashing into cliffs leading to 5,000-foot peaks. The only road along this coastline is Hwy 1. The scenery of the Santa Lucia range is immensely beautiful, and is best enjoyed by hiking. There are many state parks and state reserves along the coast, including Andrew Molera, Garrapata, Pffiefer Big Sur, Julia Pffiefer Burns, and Limekiln State Parks, as well as Point Lobos State Reserve and Los Padres National Forest. The most famous landmarks on the coast include he Bixby Bridge and McWay Falls, where a waterfall plunges 60 feet straight into the Pacific Ocean.
We drove along the Pacific coast for 2 days from San Francisco all the way down to Ventura. The scenery between Monterrey and Carmel was beautiful, also between Santa Barbara and Ventura, as well as the area they call Big Sur.
The reason it took us 2 days is because you have to drive slower than usual on most of these roads. I was so glad there were so many places a person could pull over in the car to take pictures!
I would never drive the Big Sur area at night or in a fog because that could be dangerous. I think the only way to enjoy this highway is to drive it in the daytime and allow yourself enough time to truly enjoy it!
You must take in the beauty of the Big Sur. It winds along the Pacific Coast and is a 90-mile stretch of awesome beauty. As we drove along the coast, it was just one incredible view after another.
Some final considerations about the fabled BIG SUR.
The Lonely Planet guide says that this beautiful area is known for being the shelter of many people that love camping and lodging here.
Through the trees, many times, so many tents are visible.
Suddenly I understood that this ara is densely inhabited, but beware, it is not for weak wallets. The appearance of the lodges, restaurants and other facilities clearly suggests it.
this may be even better. Your's the verdict.
Wildlife in the Big Sur is abundant.
Especially birds and aquatic creatures.
Pelicans and seagulls are here in large numbers, flying up and down even close to the visitors and that creates a nice atmosphere.
Groups of sealions are also present, but far more difficult to photograph because of distance.
Take your time to stay there
Maybe my best picture here, taken from the same promontory.
Finally I succeeded in taking a photograph in full sun without letting the dark parts appear even darker.
I'm just an amateur photographer, and that should be clear from here.
People watching these pictures have said "I don't know if the places were really wonderful or your camera is really great" never thinking about the photographer's skills! How well they know me...
The Pacific Ocean shore was at 50 meters below from my view point.
There is a small promontory, with no protection, so I took a lot of risk JUST TO OFFER YOU THIS PICTURE! APPRECIATE IT!
Just kidding, I'm scared of the heights like nothing else in the world. This picture took me 1 year of life away.
This place deserved a long stop, definitely.
I cannot point you exactly where this vista point is, let's say about 20 miles south of Carmel, in a woody area.
There is a wide right turn, the road climbing.
The vista point is there, and it is great!
It may appear as a pointless one, because some trees seem to block the sight but that's not true, stop there and you will be rewarded.