Big Sur Coast Highway - California Highway 1 (Pacific Coast Highway)
For over 200 miles from San Luis Obispo to San Francisco, California Highway 1 (Pacific Coast Highway) closely follows the coast with an endless procession of beaches, bluffs, and rugged cliffs. The southern part of the route includes memorable small beach towns such as Morro Bay and Cayucos and the famed Hearst Castle. The northern section features Carmel, the Monterey peninsula, and the fine beaches of Santa Cruz. (Photo, left: the Big Sur Coast)
The Big Sur Coast Highway is the middle of the route and the primary attraction of California's Central Coast. It runs about 100 miles between Ragged Point and Carmel and covers a series of cliffs with unmatched vistas of land and sea. In many places, the road is engineered into the cliffs, sometimes many hundreds of feet above the ocean. Spectacular bridges span precipitous canyons; the Bixby Bridge is one of the world's highest single-span bridges. The road has been improved over the years so it is fairly wide and comfortable in most but not all places. Never stop on the side of the road. The are numerous vista points with ample parking areas. (Photo, right: looking north from Ragged Point. Below: Cannery Row in Monterey)
The route has numerous state parks and beaches. The Point Lobos State Reserve south of Carmel offers some of the world's finest coastal vistas and plentiful wildlife. Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park's Overlook Trail features McWay Falls, an 80 foot waterfall which spills out of the cliff directly onto the beach. The route's southern section passes through a beautiful segment of the Los Padres National Forest. This virtually undeveloped area offers nothing but beautiful views of ocean and forest with great campgrounds, picnic areas, and hiking trails.
Map of California Highway 1 - Pacific Coast Highway
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Best in the West Guide - Spectacular Scenic Routes