A visit to Monterey would not be complete without a road trip down CA 1, California’s iconic coastal highway. The stretch between Carmel and Big Sur is easily the prettiest road in America. Four out of five car commercials would agree with me. Usually our capstone for such a trip is a visit to Nepenthe in Big Sur, where we can enjoy a luncheon overlooking the ocean. Last winter though, California finally received some relief from the five years of drought that it had been suffering. Unfortunately for Big Sur, these winter rains washed out the Pfeiffer Canyon bridge just north of town and while not directly impacting us, another stretch of the coast highway was also closed south of Big Sur by a mudslide. This left Big Sur effectively cutoff, except for a torturous mountain road that requires 4 wheel-drive to traverse. There are workarounds though.
We parked at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, just north of the closure. Where we took a makeshift footbridge across the Big Sur River. We wandered through the campground until we came to campsite #31. There we began hiking the Bypass Trail. We eschewed the shuttle and walked the rest of the way, along CA 1, to Nepenthe, for a roundtrip total of four miles and more importantly a total of 1000′ of elevation gain. I will remind Anne of this experience, if she mentions bicycling CA 1. Although, once south of the closure, we were passed by numerous electric bikes. Their riders effortlessly climbed past us on CA 1.
There is another establishment in Big Sur that is facing the same problem as Nepenthe, but since the Post Ranch Inn caters to the 1%, their solution does not involve any hiking. Rooms at the ranch normally start at $1100 a night, but as part of their helicopter package they will fly you down the coast from Monterey. They also offer flights to the Hearst Castle in San Simeon. On our way back north from Big Sur, we stopped near Soberanes Point in Garrapata State Park, where the above photo of California’s rugged central coast was taken.