Explore Highway 1 from Carmel to Big Sur

Lone Cypress

Explore the scenic highlights from Highway 1 as you head down the coast from Carmel to Big Sur.

Being from the Central Coast, every time I visit the area I like to do the same trip - Simply because it is amazing. The trip starts along 17 mile drive located in Carmel. From the road, you see the Central Coast icon, the Lone Cypress. Being one of the most photographed trees in North America, it is truly an incredible site to see. This Monterey Cypress has been standing on the granite cliff for over 250 years. Also along this 17 mile stretch, you come across one of the most beautiful golf courses in the world, Pebble Beach.

After the 17 mile drive, continue on the beautiful Highway 1, southbound to Big Sur, and be sure to stop at an amazing unmarked beach. You will continue for about 20 miles until you come to the Garrapata Creek Bridge where you will see parking as well as a few trails. These trails lead you to a secluded beach where you can get away from the crowds. If you come to this spot early spring, Calla Lilies bloom all around the trail; this is a photographers dream.

After plenty of time spent at this secluded beach, the next stop is the Big Sur River Inn . On the way to the Rivers Inn you will cross the historic Bixby Bridge. Built in 1932, Bixby Bridge is a truly jaw dropping site to see, and you won't be able to help yourself from spending countless minutes starring at it. Once you finally decide to get moving again, you will find the restaurant, Big Sur River Inn Restaurant, which is perfect for the family. What makes this spot unique is they have furniture located directly in the river! Enjoying a meal or a drink in the middle of the river is a truly relaxing experience.

After having a nice meal on the river, you should stretch your legs and do a little hiking. The next stop, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, showcases the most beautiful cove on the West Coast. When you arrive at the park you will see signs to McWay Falls, this is the way you need to go! After a short hike you will come to a viewing platform of the incredible 80-foot waterfall that flows year round directly into the Pacific Ocean. The best way to view this spot is during sunset, so try to plan this adventure so you end up here at the end of the day.

Pack List

  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Backpack
  • Layered Clothing
  • Swimsuit
  • Camera
Show More
Activities Chillin, Photography
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Features
Bathrooms
Beach
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Groups
Romantic
Scenic
Waterfall

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Gorgeous Drive!

This drive is a must do! There are many scenic view points along the way and is a photographer's dream. If you have a few days there's great camping along the way.

Off Times Are Best

As with many highly trafficked areas this section of highway is over run with tourists . I'd highly recommend going early or late in the day to avoid the ensuing gridlock from people who are stopping for photos. Also watch for cyclists! This section of road is very narrow.

Pretty remarkable

The highway itself is pretty remarkable as it winds its way along the Santa Lucia mountains above the Pacific Ocean. Some other spots to look up would be the Henry Miller Memorial Library, the New Camaldoli Hermitage and Limekiln State Park. But all you really need is the Pacific. Buy gas before you get to Highway 1. There's gas available but it's expensive.


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

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

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