Heads up if you are planning a trip to Big Sur this spring: The popular camping, surfing and hiking destination along the coast of Central California has been hit hard by recent winter weather and is temporarily closed to the public.
Every year outdoor enthusiasts travel to this jaw-dropping location for it’s sandy beaches, blue water, and impressive cliffs and coastal mountains. Adventures here have a similar feeling to what you would expect to find in the mountains. The 6,000-foot vertical slope on some of the mountains, the steep trails, and winding roads are definitely reminiscent of some locations in the Sierra or Cascades.
Like these mountain ranges that are capable of inspiring such awe, Big Sur is also susceptible to extreme weather that closes roads and other infrastructure. The last few months in the area have been intense, to say it mildly. August of last year brought a wildfire that raged for months, and the extreme rains the West Coast experienced starting in December and continuing all the way up to this last week have caused flooding and mudslides in the area. In a few areas, part of the road is just flat out missing.
Needless to say, the roads going in and out of Big Sur will be out of commission for a few months. The north and south entrances to the parks along Highway 1 are closed until further notice from CalTrans. If you were planning a trip to state parks like Andrew Molera, Pfeiffer Big Sur, Julia Pfeffer Burns, and Limekiln, you may want to look into alternate travel plans over the next few months.
Rather than mourning your vacation plans, with a little tweaking you can still enjoy the beauty and adventure of California’s Central Coast. Here are a few destinations that will make for an incredible trip to this part of the country, sans the road closures and mudslides that would make for quite the headache you would find in Big Sur this spring.
- Santa Barbara: If you are looking for some place that has the hiking, camping, surfing and the rugged terrain of Big Sur, then Santa Barbara will cover all the bases. Surf the legendary breaks at El Capitan State Beach, go for a walk along the beach at Mesa Lane, hike to an invigorating lookout at Inspiration Point, and paddle the deep blue waters out to Anacapa Islands.
- Monterey Bay: World famous for it’s wildlife viewing and coastal adventures, Monterrey Bay is an amazing place to take a kayak tour and see some of the marine life out in their natural habitat. Paddling out on the water is also a fun and different way to get active if you were originally just planning on hiking trails and camping out. If you are looking for a beach to stretch your legs and relax on, head over to Moss Landing State Beach. It features a Dune Restoration Zone, and it is popular for surf fishing and beach walks.
- Carmel: Located just north of the Big Sur road closures, this picturesque ocean town is known for its network of trails and frequently spotted marine life. Visit Point Lobos State Nature Reserve to experience both as well as to take in some of the dramatic coastal features typical of the Big Sur area.
- Santa Cruz: This quintessential California beach town is located next to the redwood forested San Lorenzo Mountains as well as the beach, making it a destination that is the best of both worlds if you like the ocean as well as the woods. Walk along the beach at Santa Cruz’s Natural Bridges State Beach, and prepare to be wowed by the waves crashing against the rock arches. The Pogonip Trails are great for a walk through the cool and humid rain forests, and Pleasure Point is the local’s hangout for catching great waves.
- Big Basin: At Big Basin State Park, soak in the incredible height of the redwood trees that the California Coastline is famous for. There is an amazing network of trails here, as well, including some that are cut into fallen trees and through the fern-filled undergrowth.
- San Luis Obispo: There’s so much to love about this area located south of Big Sur and halfway between San Francisco and L.A. Hike along the Bluff Trail to take in the coastline and even dip your toes in the Pacific Ocean, or campout at the Morro Strand campground and take in the views of Morro Rock from the bay. And don't overlook a quick visit to Estero Bluffs State Park while you are in the area.