Cruising Pacific Coast Highway in Northern California
Rate this Adventure San Francisco › Stinson Beach
Added by Juan Moreno
Beautiful Views of The PacificGreat Drive 220 miles up the coastPhoto Opportunities Around Every TurnMany Beaches to ExploreWildlife ViewingLots of Fog
Start your drive on US Highway 1 aka Pacific Coast Highway just North of San Francisco. The drive will take about 1 -2 days so plan on overnighting somewhere. Hotels are scarce in the unpopulated areas but there all lots of Cabin rentals throughout and several campgrounds around. Just make sure you plan ahead. Most of the towns have a convenience store or restaurant.
You can stop at Arched Rock at Marshall Gulch located about 2 miles north of Salmon Creek, it's a pretty amazing view. The view from the road 4 miles north of Jenner, CA when it goes inland is stunning. You can see the curvy road as it winds up the mountain (once you go up, look to the left and you can see the curvy road you just went up). As soon as you reach the top, look out for the Sonoma Coast Overlook on the left side, quite a site to take in. If your lucky, you may be able to see clouds below you.
Head north and you will be driving along the coast several hundred feet above the water. You can get a beautiful view of the coastline as far as the eye can see. 50 miles north of here is Sea Ranch, CA. The Sea Ranch Lodge is located here and had beautiful accommodations if you can reserve them in advance and have the money to do so. You will see a ton of deer in this area, so keep your eyes peeled (and on the road). Another 24 miles up the PCH and you'll find the road to the Point Arena Lighthouse standing at 115ft tall. This is lighthouse and museum and the hours of operation are 10:00a-03:30p. It gets incredibly foggy here so if you want a shot of the lighthouse make sure to check the weather.
Fort Bragg is 45 miles north of the lighthouse. After Fort Bragg there is the last 25 mile stretch of the PCH which literally goes along the coast before meeting up with the 101. In my opinion, the best road cruising and pictures of the PCH are in this stretch, particularly the section before Juan Creek before heading inland through the redwoods. There are also campgrounds located along this stretch with ocean views in and around Westport, CA. The drive through the Usal Redwoods is the last part if this journey which is quite the drive if you like tight turns and corners. Finish it off by stopping in Leggett and checking out the drive through tree named Lantern Tree, a majestic redwood with a tunnel carved out at the base.
There are lots of pristine beaches throughout that are untouched and you really can't go wrong anywhere in this area. Be sure to be on the look out for deer as they are very common. There are curvy roads everywhere and make for great photo opportunities. Several lighthouses are located throughout this area as well just be sure to check if they are open to visitors on that day. Many of the higher elevations offer the Above the Clouds viewing/photo opportunities just be aware that most of the rural areas do not have cell service.
- Full Tank Of Gas
- Camera and Camera Gear
- Music Playlist
- Spare Change of Clothes For Overnight
- Camping Equipment if Camping
- Snacks and Drinks
- Medicine for Motion Sickness for those who might need it
Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.
Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More
ReviewsLeave a Review
I don't recommend doing this drive on a weekend, or during high summer - there are just too many cars & motorcycles on the road now, it's too stressful if you are the driver. Go in the "off season" February, March, April and early May or in the fall, October and November are lovely.
More Adventures Nearby
Photograph Monarch Butterflies at Natural Bridges' Monarch Grove
San Francisco / Natural Bridges SB
The park's Monarch Grove provides a temporary home for thousands of Monarchs.
Hike Peters Creek and Long Ridge
San Francisco / Long Ridge Open Space Preserve Trailhead
From the parking lot, take the connector trail towards the Peters Creek Trail for 0.4 miles. As you descend into a small valley, notice the sound of running water that appears.