Big Sur Coast Highway – Route 1

Details

  • DesignationAll-American Road (1996)
  • Intrinsic QualitiesHistoric, Scenic
  • LocationCA
  • Length90 miles
Byway Visitor Information
Big Sur Chamber of Commerce
Statewide Byway Partners
California Department of Transportation
Visit California
Big Sur Coast Highway – Route 1
Martha Alejandre Photo

Overview

This byway hugs the California coast with access to windswept cypress trees, fog-shrouded cliffs and the crashing surf of the Pacific Ocean. Views include rugged canyons, redwoods, sea lions, and other marine life.

Local Byway Partners

Story of the Byway

This roughly 90-mile expanse of redwood and fog-trimmed waterfront lets you experience the Pacific coastline with its rugged cliffs and turquoise water. Follow Route 1 as it twists along the coastline. Look up to see California condors or down to see swells of migrating whales or sea otters floating among dense beds of kelp. One favorite photo op is in Julia Pfeffer Burns State Park at McWay Falls with its cascade falling some 70 feet from the cliffs to the sandy, remote beach. Wildflowers abound on this route as well. You will see pristine landscapes as well as urban areas. Monterey, Carmel-by-the-Sea, and the entire Big Sur area offers a variety of food and lodging opportunities including luxury rooms, or cabins, camping, and glamping options.

Driving Directions

The byway follows Route 1 (Cabrillo Highway) along the California Pacific coast from Monterey southward to San Louis Obispo, where the route continues under a different name.

Points of Interest

  • Andrew Molera State Park

    Great place to hike and for beachcombing

  • Hurricane Point

    Great view of the Pacific coastline

  • Julia Piffer Burns State Park

    McWay Waterfall descends to the sandy beach with turquoise water, rock outcroppings. Great place for a picnic.

  • Kirk Creek Campground

    Great views of the Pacific coastline.

  • Sand Dollar Picnic Area and Beach

    Wild flowers line the stairs leading to the beach.

  • Limekiln State Park

    Contains the 100-foot split-stream Limekiln Falls

  • Carmel-by-the-Sea

    Home to over 100 art galleries, cultural foods, and wine-tasting rooms. Scuba entry point at the Carmel River State Beach

  • Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

    Sea animals and whaling museum.

Itinerary

  • Pacific Coastline, Redwoods, Waterfalls, Beaches, and More

    Start at the San Louis Obispo County Line, north of Ragged Point Vista, on Highway 1 (also known as the Cabrillo Highway). Pack a breakfast and lunch and take it with you to stop at any of the state parks along the way. The drive will hug the Pacific coastline. First stop is the Sand Dollar Picnic Area for your breakfast on the beach. Up the road, stop in the Kirk Creek Campground for breathtaking views of the Pacific coastline and at Limekin State Park to see the 100-foot Limekin Falls. A stop at the Julia Piffer Burns State Park is a great place for a mid-morning snack while you enjoy the waterfall, beach, and picnic area.

    Drive through the towering redwoods to the Andrew Molera State Park. Stretch your legs on the hiking trail or go beachcombing. Stop at Hurricane Point to see more Pacific Coast views. Just south of Carmel-by-the-Sea is Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, home to a whaling museum. Continue to Carmel-by-the-Sea where the Byway officially ends at Ocean Avenue. Take Ocean Avenue going west to walk and enjoy the white sand beach. Scuba diving and surfing are also popular here.

    Carmel-by-the Sea is known for its art galleries, food, and wine, so enjoy your evening in this iconic beach town.

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