Big Sur is the world’s most wanted road trip – Orange County Register

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Have you been to Big Sur? A recent survey revealed that the spectacular drive through Big Sur on California Highway 1 was the world’s most popular road trip search, and that’s not surprising to me, since we do it almost every year.

According to Zutobi Driving Guides, 7.5 million people worldwide searched for Big Sur online last year, with the second most popular road trip search – Route 66 – reaching 6.4 million.

  • Waterfall in the sea at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park in Big Sur, California. (Photo by Marla Jo Fisher, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • The most popular car trips in the world, as measured by Zutobi Driving Guides 2021. (Courtesy Zutobi Driving Guides)

  • Camping in the Coastal Redwoods, Big Sur, California. (Photo by Marla Jo Fisher, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • Coastal views along Highway 1 in Big Sur, California. (Photo by Marla Jo Fisher, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • Tubing on the Big Sur River, 2010. (Photo by Marla Jo Fisher, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • Tubing on the Big Sur River (Photo by Marla Jo Fisher, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • Pfeiffer’s Beach is located on Sycamore Canyon Road and is one of the few easily accessible beaches in Big Sur. No swimming is allowed because of the counter-currents. (Photo by Marla Jo Fisher / SCNG)

What is surprising is the number of people who have lived their entire lives in California and have never been there, even though it takes less than seven hours to drive there from Southern California. . In fact, it sometimes seems that Europeans flock there as much as Californians, coming from thousands of miles and across the seas to visit this unique setting, where coastal sequoias and the Santa Lucia mountains meet the sea.

It’s only 130 miles from the start of Highway 1 in Big Sur Country in Carmel in the north to San Luis Obispo in the south, but the trip takes three hours non-stop because of the winding and mountainous roads. that constantly slow you down to catch the breathtaking ocean views. But we have ocean views all over California. Why is Big Sur special?

Originally named by the Spanish, the area known as Big Sur is incredibly remote and inaccessible, even though it sits on the California coast between the bustling cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles.

It took years to carve out Route 1 in this wilderness, between the coastal mountains covered with redwoods and the sea. Begun in the 1920s, the magnificent route finally opened in 1937, but it remains a wild adventure of Getting There. Almost every year there is some sort of landslide, landslide or road collapse that makes it seem like the wilderness is reminiscent of it.

The first American settlers had to be a self-sufficient lot, as you could only get to the city by riding for days on horseback. Eventually, a road was built wide enough to carry horses and carts, which made it easier to get in and out of provisions.

At first, ships would stop to load lumber and lime and disgorge supplies, although none do today, as the coast is part of a protected conservation area.

Part of the charm of the region is its very inaccessibility. Few people want to settle in a place with so few roads and so little modern civilization. However, the region has hosted many writers, poets, artists and dreamers over the years. Author Henry Miller moved there in 1944 and later turned his house into a library. It is now open to the public, with events and a sculpture garden. Robinson Jeffers wrote poetry here.

Some people believe that the magnetic poles of the earth intersect here, creating a magical space. And it’s certainly a refuge for unique places, like Esalen, an institute with workshops where visitors can take a whirlpool with ocean views. At first glance, Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn is a seemingly run-down guesthouse and restaurant that was built in the 1930s by Norwegian and English immigrants, but its quirky charm means it is now constantly full, despite its accommodations. less than glamorous. I have friends who spent their honeymoon there.

One aspect that alienates many people is the hefty price tag: getting a dose of Big Sur doesn’t come cheap. The area is known for its upscale accommodations, such as Ventana and the Post Ranch. Even “budget” accommodations cost around $ 200 a night. The only really affordable place here is Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, where one can rent a campground for a song, compared to anywhere else, and people have to enter summer reservations as soon as they go. they become available.

There is no nightlife here and few restaurants. People hike, tubing the Big Sur River, enjoy the small handful of beaches in the Pacific Ocean (which are not swimmable), then sit around the fire pit or head out early.

State parks to visit include Andrew Molera which has a beach, Point Lobos with its ocean view trails with otters and sea lions, Pfeiffer Big Sur, Garrapata, Limekiln and the little but perfect Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, where a short walk takes you to Big Sur’s most iconic image – a waterfall falling into the sea. Try to separate them: half of the area is named after Pfeiffer after one of the pioneer families.

Those on a budget – or who can’t get reservations – can stay in San Simeon at the south end of the freeway, which has a selection of affordable motels. Seaside, a town adjacent to Monterey, offers more budget options at the north end of the highway. For those who have planned a short trip on Highway 101 or I-5, the detour is worth the detour. You might just fall in love.

“For those of us who lived there it was never Big Sur, it was just The Coast, like it was the only coast in the world,” wrote Rosalind Sharpe Wall, the child. early pioneers who wrote “A Wild Coast and Lonely” on the history of the region.

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