Welcome to Scenic Big Sur

An epic road trip is one of America’s favorite pastimes, and few drives are more iconic than Highway 1 through Big Sur. Tight turns hug the rugged coastline while mile after mile of stunning vistas inspire awe in even the most seasoned traveler.
We like to start to the north of Big Sur and drive south, which keeps the vistas to the right, but don’t forget to switch up stints behind the wheel. While gawking out the window is amazing, the chance to drive this epic road is pretty spectacular as well. Driving the full 76 miles from Bixby Bridge to Hearst Castle with no stops will take about two hours. But you should make stops. Here are a few to get you started.

Bixby Bridge

One of Big Sur’s most recognizable landmarks, Bixby Bridge is one of the world’s highest single-span bridges. To get the best photos of the bridge, stop on the south side instead of the north. You have to find a small dirt road to the right and drive a little ways up, but it’s totally worth it.

Big Sur - Bixby Bridge
Big Sur - Bixby Bridge
Big Sur - Bixby Bridge

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

If you’re chasing waterfalls, swing into this state park named for a Big Sur pioneer. From the parking lot, the 1.3-mile round-trip Waterfall Trail rushes downhill toward the ocean, offering photogenic views of the 80ft-high McWay Falls, which tumbles year-round over granite cliffs and free-falls into the sea. Note that flood damage had closed several trails and access to the beach at the time of research. Check current conditions online.
McWay Falls is the classic Big Sur postcard shot, with tree-topped rocks jutting above a golden beach next to swirling blue pools and crashing white surf. From trailside benches, you might spot migrating whales during winter.

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park - McWay Falls
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park - McWay Falls
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park - McWay Falls

Phone Number: (831) 667-1112

Website: https://www.parks.ca.gov/jpb

Park Hours: 8 a.m. to Sunset

Day Use Fee: $10 day per vehicle

The park is 37 miles south of Carmel on Hwy 1, and 12 miles south of Pfeiffer Big Sur SP on Hwy 1.

Google Maps

Two Environmental Campsites are located on the west side of Highway 1 south of McWay Cove. Both sites are hike-in only and no vehicle access is permitted. These sites are extremely popular year round and usually fill up six months in advance. Reservations are required.

Best trail: Waterfall Overlook Trail/ McWay Falls (0.5 miles roundtrip)

All Trails

Big Sur is a wilderness area and that’s why we love it. It is home to many wild plants and animals. All deserve our respect. Please use extra caution on the trails and in the campgrounds when encountering the following plants and animals.

Be aware in Big Sur!

Big Sur California Road Trip
Big Sur California Road Trip

Elephant Seal Vista Point

Elephant Seal Vista point

Morro Bay

Home to a commercial fishing fleet, Morro Bay’s biggest claim to fame is Morro Rock, a volcanic peak jutting dramatically from the ocean floor. It’s one of the Nine Sisters, a 21-million-year-old chain of rocks stretching all the way south to San Luis Obispo. The town’s less boast-worthy landmark comes courtesy of the power plant, whose three cigarette-shaped smokestacks mar the bay views. Along this humble, working-class stretch of coast you’ll find fantastic opportunities for kayaking, hiking and camping.

Big Sur - Morro Bay
Big Sur - Morro Bay
Big Sur - Morro Bay
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