Friday, April 06, 2012

Come, Experience Big Sur

SUMMER, FALL, WINTER OR SPRING, there is always time to enjoy the breeze, to embrace the smile of the sunshine, and for some, a time to soak in nature. 
Big Sur Coast, CA
I had mentioned in my last post about a summer Sierra Nevada road trip in California. That road trip mixes the experience of being in a big city ( either Los Angeles or San Francisco), mountains, forests and desert. Another road trip option is along the coast, driving on Pacific Highway 1, passing through the greatest meeting of the mountains and the sea, at Big Sur.
Big Sur Coast
This coastal road trip is very ideal for those who plans to visit both San Francisco and Los Angeles, and may be combined also with the Sierra Nevada road trip, depending on time availability. The National Geographic featured this drive as one of the 20 drives of a lifetime in the world.
Big Sur is a very serene, mostly remote, and mostly natural place. In 1542, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, the Portuguese explorer who discovered California and the west coast said,
" There are mountains which seem to reach the heavens, and the sea beats on them."
Mountain Meets The Sea with Low Lying Clouds @ Big Sur
Big Sur is where the mountains are kissed by the clouds and the strong surfs from the ocean waves make remarkable sounds as they smashed the land.

A Quiet and Rural Life at Big Sur
Big Sur is very slow paced, probably not an image many would associate California with, especially that this stretch of coastal wilderness is between San Francisco and Los Angeles. This is a place defined by its natural features, mountains and water, then the life within.

Elephant Seals, Point Piedras Blancas, San Simeon, Big Sur, CA
Here, at the edge of the American West, mountains plunge into the ocean making the Pacific Coast Highway or CA Hwy 1, California's first scenic highway, look like a tiny ribbon.

Historic Bixby Bridge, Pacific Coast Highway, Big Sur

The highway is like a tiny ribbon that cuts through the edges of the rugged mountain terrain.

Lupines, Pacific Coast Highway 1, Big Sur

Big Sur is not a National Park, is not even an established city or twon. This place has no borders, just an unincorporated county land. However, the long stretch of Big Sur's coastal wilderness includes numerous State Parks, where people could camp, hike, scuba dive, and more.

Coastal Redwoods, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park
Hiking trais in the Big Sur region range from relatively flat nature trails through mostly redwood forest, or along the rocky coastline, to challenging routes for long day and overnight hikes. Wilderness permits are required for overnight backpacking stays in many locations. A short hike in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park will lead to a beautiful sight, the McWay Fall.

McWay Fall, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Big Sur
This is a unique waterfall by the sea, and it drops 80 ft off a cliff onto the beach nestled on a pretty cove. There is no land acess to the beach where the water at McWay Fall drops as the cliffs would be too crumbly and dangerous to descend. If one wants to get down to this cove, s/he has to endure to swim frigid waters to the waterfall. There is a trail at Partington Cove that drops 200 ft to the ocean.

Coastline Between Partington and Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Between Partington Point and McWay Creek is the Julia Pfeiffer Burns Underwater area, which is a scuba diving area. The rocky shoreline is the acess to this underwater park. Many whales pass close to shore at this point, and occasionally one will come into the mouth of the cove. Sea otters, harbor seals, California sea lions are occasional visitors.

Elephant Seals, Point Piedras Blancas, Big Sur

Big Sur is a showcase of coastal wilderness, incredible marine and land biology, magnificent geology and exemplary thermodynamics. There are no theme parks here, but a lot of living museums. The culture here is defined by how God manifests its supreme artistry in mingling wilderness with natural beauty. The wildflowers on the trail,

Calla Lily, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Big Sur

California Poppies, Big Sur


Coastal Deer on a Bed of Grass and Wildflowers, Big Sur
makes this place nature's Disneyland. For me, however, there is no man made theme park (though I live close to Sea World, Legoland, Disneyland, Universal Studios, etc ) which can compare to the joy of knowing and experiencing the power of nature.

Wildflowers, Big Sur Coast
Experiencing it up close, as close as I could get. Come, let us hike, and experience Big Sur.
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  1. Every time I stop by here, I end up wanting to hit the road! You should compile all your posts together and publish a travel book:)
    I (and probably a million others) have the same pic of McWay falls.. wish there was some way to get closer to it:) Of course if all the state park closures go through, it may be hard to see lots of great places in California.. what a bummer that's going to be.
    Very good info and pictures as always!

  2. This is an awesome post, and the photos are just like in National Geographic Magazine..

    Big Sur sounds like a wonderful place to visit.

  3. I love the coast highway, have traversed it from Tijuana to Vancouver, but it seems the most scenic right where you took these shots.


  4. I would love to drive across that bridge. Al of these places are great. This would be so fun to explore.

  5. Thanks for the virtual tour Betchai! The McWay Fall is a beautiful and unique spot...too bad it can't be easily accessed. Yes, let's hike and experience Big Sur... for now it will just be in my imagination. :)

  6. I've never been to Big Sur, only seen it in pictures. I didn't realize there was grass, wildflowers and deer so near the ocean. I also love the seals, ocean, redwoods, bridge, waterfall...your photos are all gorgeous!

  7. I prefer nature to the big city lights any day. Those orange flowers are stunning.

  8. It was only last night when my husband and I saw Pacific Coast Highway on tv, and we both said it will be great to be there in person, and here I am now, admiring again and again your photos, they are amazing! Big Sur is a must see, and a place everyone should visit. Thank you for the wonderful photos Betchai!

    Debbie :)

  9. I really don't think there is a more beautiful spot anywhere in this world than Big Sur. The coastline is gorgeous. I love your photos. You've captured the essence of this glorious spot.

  10. If ever I will have to go hiking or nature tripping you're the first one for me to call. =)

    Beautiful pictures, very nice untouched paradise. Nothing can beat nature's beauty compared to those manmade recreation places.

  11. The beach pictures are breathtaking. California has such beautiful rocky beaches.

  12. You have done a great job to show us the beauty of California. I am travelling right now at California, seems to be real, in the midst of scrolling along all the beautiful pictures.

  13. Nice pictures! Been there many times, but can't wait to go back again!

  14. Hi Betchai,

    Thank you so much, for bringing the California coast to me, in your great pictures. The California Poppies pic is wonderful. Your pics and posts are just great together.

    How do you get your blog printed on your pics?

  15. I love the shades of blue in the first picture and the seals! No seals on the Great Lakes. haha.

  16. I love the elephant seals! It's so hot and dry over here at the there's haze.

  17. I love the trees, bridge, seals-okay all of it!!!! Another amazing post. Thanks for sharing!

  18. Again , very awesome shots, thanks for posting them. The wildflowers are incredible.

  19. Wow! Amazing to see those elephant seals!

    Gosh! The redwood forest is so gorgeous! Big trees - my kind of forests!

    The McWay Fall - OMG! So beautiful!

    I would love to be on that Historic Bixby Bridge overlooking the ocean. Awesome! : )

  20. I've always been afraid of seals...

  21. Thanks for an idea, you sparked at thought from a angle I hadn’t given thoguht to yet. Now lets see if I can do something with it.

  22. We drove the highway once a long time ago... 1972? It was beautiful.

  23. I just can't get enough of the elephant seals! the blue green water is so beautiful!

  24. What a gorgeous place! So amazing to see a waterfall at the beach, plus the wildflowers, redwoods, seals. Big Sur like a great place to visit. :)

  25. We are so blessed to be living in CA. I see you went to the redwoods, how did you like it?

  26. One of my absolute favorite spots in this world. Your pic displays it's beauty to perfection.

  27. Looking at the elephant seals makes me want to take a nap lol. Lovely views Ate!

  28. McWay Fall has the most stunning view.

  29. Wow! Beautiful! All those should be in my bucket list! They're amazing! Are you sure you're a blogger and not from National Geographic?!? hahaha