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Author Topic: So I drove through Big Sur yesterday!  (Read 340 times)

Techknow

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So I drove through Big Sur yesterday!
« on: July 02, 2022, 03:45:02 AM »

Well I been to part of the Big Sur coastal region in California several times, particularly visiting Point Sur lighthouse in three tours and as a passenger of a Cessna 172 flying over it. But I wanted to drive through Big Sur in its entirety and I even mentioned it here

So I did a day road trip from San Francisco through Big Sur and then all the way back which is about 400 miles in 9.5 hours! My holiday weekend started on Friday as opposed to Saturday so I decided to do it sooner to minimize the amount of traffic I would have to sit through. As it turns out there was some inevitable traffic but commute traffic didn't affect me much! I decided to take US 101 instead of driving north to go back home because I thought it would be faster and also minimize gas consumption (AFAIK I used slightly less than the amount of gas I filled up, which was 15.5 gallons.)

The weather was quite favorable, although foggy for the first 15 miles it was sunny after that but still windy in some areas.

This is my first road trip with a dashcam which is way more convenient and safe to get pictures/video! I have to admit the quality and positioning of it was not good, the dashboard of the car is reflected into all my videos. (And yes, I probably don't want speed/GPS information in the video too, didn't get into any accident on the trip though!)

Inbound half: I-280 -> CA 85 -> US 101 -> CA 156 -> CA 1 -> CA 46
Outbound half: CA 46 -> US 101 -> CA 85 -> I-280

Driving from the Carmel River to Ragged Point: I last drove to the lighthouse 5 years ago, so I was surprised when I saw mountains suddenly appear, that's how I knew I entered Big Sur! There are many historical bridges here, the three most notable are the Garrapata, Rocky, and Bixby Creek bridges. The nearby pull-outs for these bridges were already full so I didn't not to try to park near them. I tried going to a pull-out past the Bixby but I couldn't see the bridge unfortunately. But I do think after that point almost every pull-out I parked on had great scenery. There are a lot of curves and slow sections but I had no problem driving it at all. I think this may not even be the most twisty part of CA 1. Going from Jenner in Sonoma to Mendocino county is IMO even more twisty and motion-sickness inducing!






Much/most of the area is private land but there are two areas with beach access:




CA 1 isn't signed much in Big Sur but it does have the Scenic Route Placard in Gorda! Of course I also had to take a look at the gas prices there, I already filled up at Rio Road in Carmel for "only" $6.59/gallon:







(The second photo shows one the gas station itself which doesn't have a big sign for the gas prices apparently.)

After Gorda is the Mud Creek slide alignment of the highway that was completed in 2018, 14 months after the old alignment got buried. I did park at a pull-out to take a picture of it but it was meh IMO.



Ragged Point to CA 46: CA 1 doesn't hug the coast as much and feels more like a highway where I could drive at the speed limit (55 MPH). I passed through San Simeon where Hearst Castle is. I decided to take a 5-minute detour to Hearst Castle because I thought I could see the front of the castle without going for a tour. Apparently only the visitor center was visible. That was my fault, apparently there's a road to the castle itself but it's several miles inland. So apparently the castle is hidden in the landscape, clever!

CA 46: I was pleasantly surprised by this 22-mile section from CA 1 to US 101 at Paso Robles. It goes uphill to 1762 feet elevation and then goes down but not much slope or curves so it's easy to exceed the 55 MPH limit here (it's an undivided 2-lane highway.) Surrounding me were rolling hills everywhere! There are two vista points too, but unlike at Big Sur I didn't bother stopping because the hills were all yellow but still plenty of trees so some greenery. Reminds me of CA 17, but with less traffic and curves!








US 101 through Monterey County: This bit of the trip felt like a long slog unsurprisingly. In King City however this is where the inevitable traffic jam happened, US 101 is currently a Super-2 for one mile (exit 282B to 283)! The road is currently striped such that the 2nd lane is dropped and vehicles need to merge to the single lane. Apparently the 2nd lane is being rebuilt/repaired. One would think I would have known about this road condition ahead of time. But in Caltrans road conditions app (https://roads.dot.ca.gov/roadscell.php) no restrictions can be found there about it.

There are still scenery though because one can definitely notice being in the middle of the valley floor of the Salinas Valley. The first 90 miles is flat and the last 10 is more windier but once the speed limit changes from 70 to 65 MPH it stays that way until it drops to 55 at the Santa Clara county border (then goes back to 65 until San Mateo county) so it was fine. The rest of the way home I been on a lot so I'm not going to cover here.







Thanks for reading and viewing!
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: So I drove through Big Sur yesterday!
« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2022, 09:10:37 AM »

My favorite Big Sur trip was the time I took the Nacimiento-Ferguson Road to isolated CA 1 in 2017 post Mud Creek Slide.  I hiked Lime Kiln State Park completely alone and had lunch in Gorda.

Speaking of Gorda and the gas prices, I opened up a thread about it here:

https://www.aaroads.com/forum/index.php?topic=31726.0
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Techknow

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Re: So I drove through Big Sur yesterday!
« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2022, 12:59:34 AM »

My favorite Big Sur trip was the time I took the Nacimiento-Ferguson Road to isolated CA 1 in 2017 post Mud Creek Slide.  I hiked Lime Kiln State Park completely alone and had lunch in Gorda.

Speaking of Gorda and the gas prices, I opened up a thread about it here:

https://www.aaroads.com/forum/index.php?topic=31726.0
Huh that must have been surreal to visit the highway before the Pfeiffer Canyon bridge got rebuilt. (I'll have to read your articles at Gribblenation about it.) I'm sure the hiking opportunities are great especially Cone Peak!

At one point I felt completely alone in the highway. I was at a pull-out before the tunnel west of Limeklin State Park and I realized there weren't any cars coming or going and took a video of the surroundings. This makes sense, much of the traffic was at the historic bridges I mentioned and going south to exit Big Sur would mean a longer trip if coming from the north end.
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: So I drove through Big Sur yesterday!
« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2022, 01:03:14 AM »

My favorite Big Sur trip was the time I took the Nacimiento-Ferguson Road to isolated CA 1 in 2017 post Mud Creek Slide.  I hiked Lime Kiln State Park completely alone and had lunch in Gorda.

Speaking of Gorda and the gas prices, I opened up a thread about it here:

https://www.aaroads.com/forum/index.php?topic=31726.0
Huh that must have been surreal to visit the highway before the Pfeiffer Canyon bridge got rebuilt. (I'll have to read your articles at Gribblenation about it.) I'm sure the hiking opportunities are great especially Cone Peak!

At one point I felt completely alone in the highway. I was at a pull-out before the tunnel west of Limeklin State Park and I realized there weren't any cars coming or going and took a video of the surroundings. This makes sense, much of the traffic was at the historic bridges I mentioned and going south to exit Big Sur would mean a longer trip if coming from the north end.

Early on I did a bunch of blog updates as segments reopened.  The totally isolated segment photos can be found in this photo album:

https://www.flickr.com/gp/151828809@N08/0X85ag
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