What is Big Sur

Big Sur is a scenic area located on the Central Coast of California between San Simeon and Carmel (Monterey), approximately 300 miles north of Los Angeles, and 150 miles south of San Francisco. Big Sur is a place of rugged beauty of grandeur proportions on the edge of California and the “Western World”.

What name Big Sur mean

The name Big Sur came from Spanish “El Sur Grande” or “El País Grande Del Sur” – “The Big South” or “The Big Country Of The South”, that’s what locals called this unexplored wilderness area along the coast South of Monterey, which many would agree is one of the most beautiful places in the World.

How big is Big Sur

Surrounded by Ventana Wilderness area and the three million acres of the Los Padres National Forest, and accessible only from Highway 1 (Pacific Coast Highway – PCH), which runs along the spectacular Pacific coast for over 90 miles, Big Sur is mostly majestic wilderness, with State and National Parks and a few small villages along the main road.

Highway 1 (PCH)

Declared California’s First Scenic Highway PCH (Highway 1) is being considered “state of art” itself. It started in 1872 with a wagon road built south from Monterey to Bixby Creek. Modern highway construction began in 1922, took over 20 years (the present highway was officially opened in June of 1937), and was very expensive to build due to extremely difficult area it goes through.

Pacific Coast Highway is a World class road, and one of the best maintained, but still some parts of it get closed sometimes after being washed away by winter rainstorms. PCH is not the easiest road to drive because of hundreds of curves that contour the mountain ridges, but it provides driving experience unsurpassed in natural beauty, grandeur and exhilaration.

What’s in Big Sur

From San Simeon (Hearst Castle) on the south end, the scenic drive goes climbing up, above the clouds, and drops down to where the ocean meets the land, and then up again, with mountains, creeks, waterfalls, patches of redwood forest wilderness and ocean beaches all the way to Carmel.

A few very small developed areas along Highway 1 with cafes and art galleries, campgrounds and private houses scattered in the mountains, and the highway itself is all that exist here of “civilization”. The rest is just majestic wilderness of grand proportions and rugged beauty, work of elements and powers of Nature.

Big Sur history

At the turn of the last century Big Sur sustained a booming redwood lumbering industry, and the first permanent settlers arrived in Big Sur around 1930’s. Some of their descendants still live here, but the whole area population is smaller today than it was back then, with total number of houses today being a little over 600.

Big Sur is a place dearly loved by travelers, philosophers, writers, poets and artists. Among people who epitomize it in their books, two American literature icons: Henry Miller and Jack Kerouac, made Big Sur known to a larger audience. Today this natural marvel attracts thousands of people from around the World, many of whom visit this place more than once.

National Geographic magazine named Big Sur as one of the “50 Places of a Lifetime” in “The World’s Greatest Destinations.” Big Sur is also home of the “Best Marathon in North America” and the “Best Hotel in North America” – Post Ranch Inn, which also once was named “Number One Hotel in the World.”

When is the best time to visit Big Sur

The best time to visit Big Sur is during the spring and fall. Wild flowers and abundant flora and fauna make springtime especially attractive, while autumn provides gorgeous foliage colors and more contemplative environment. Coastal fog cools the summer mornings, but it’s usually gone by early afternoon. Winters are mild, and rainy days are mixed with periods of bright sunshine.

So visit, drive safely and enjoy this scenic paradise called Big Sur.

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