USA Road Trips – The Big Sur

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The Big Sur is one of the most spectacular coastlines I have every seen. Even the beautiful valleys and coasts of Hawaii just do not come close to this amazing beauty of the Big Sur. Translated from Spanish Big Sur is 'El Sur Grande' which translated into Big South.

The Big Sur coastline covers about 90 miles, more or less bordered by the Carmel River northwards and about 120 miles south of San Francisco. Along these far-reaching, swooping seascape of woodlands, sheer cliffs and mostly little used beaches, Highway 1, finished in 1937 with inmates used as labor, makes its occasional alarming, but always a spectacular drive.

It is not for the fault of heart because this is a steep winding drive with turns that will slow you down to a few miles an hour. Many travelers ask if they can take their RV on this portion of Hwy. 1 and the answer is yes. I have done it in a 25 foot trailer and I have seen 40 foot rigs make the trip, just be prepared to drive slow and very cautious.

Point Lobos State Park is a must see. Here you will find a variety of wildlife including sea lions, sea otters and gray whales. Point Lobos is about 20 miles north of the Big Sur near the town of Carmel More beautiful stony scenery abounds somewhat farther south at Garrapata State Park.

Big Sur stays sparsely owned, with about 1000 residents. The citizenry of Big Sur nowdays are a diverse blend of descendants of the first colonist and ranchers, artists and additional creative people, along with affluent residents.

There are no urbanized areas, but you will find gas stations that sell gas at very high prices, some great restaurants and motels .. A great deal of the land on the coast is privately owned or belong to the state park system. The Los Padres National Forest and Fort Hunter Liggett Military Reservation cover almost all of the interior areas. The mountainous terrain, environmentally aware occupants, and deficiency of property acquirable for exploitation has preserved Big Sur all but unspoiled, and it continues to be an isolated part of California.

If you plan to travel to this area during the winter months be aware that when there is heavy rain in the area parts of the road wash away right into the ocean. Be sure to carry emergency supplies, water and food. Sometimes Highway 1 can be closed for weeks. The closest civilization is the town of Carmel which is about 20 miles north up the coast if you can make it.

Also during the summer months fire is a great danger. The Basin Complex Fire of 2008 forced residents and visitor to evacuate for 2 weeks and of course Hwy. 1 was closed also.

Nowadays Big Sur continues to combine to be a preferred place for local and foreign artists of every type. Art galleries located along Highway 1 display beautiful visual artist.

A great deal of of the area is controlled by the state and federal park systems, and hiking trails can be found through The Big Sur. The Los Padres National Forest, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, Garrapata State Park and Andrew Molera State Park are known all over the world for their bedazzling scenery, and with good reason. Each park bears its personal unique ambiance, and no 2 hikes are similar.

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