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Big Sur Drive Confusion, coming from Yosemite

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Big Sur Drive Confusion, coming from Yosemite

Hey Gang,

We'll be leaving Yosemite Valley early morning to get on the road to head to the coast for a two day road-trip up the PCH. I'm confused as to which approach gets us the biggest bang for our buck.

Google estimates the drive time to be almost the same whether we head West and then south, through monterery/carmel down to Big Sur/Pfeiffer State Park. This route means we'd be doing some backtracking to get to our hotel in Monterey that evening. The second route (same drive time) has us going south through Fresno and eventually west to Cambria. Maybe we would stop in cambria for coffee/breakfast/stretch (other things to see?), then start the Big Sur Drive from that point enjoying stops along the way for the day, ending in Monterey. We know this is a long day of driving. It's all good.

I'm leaning toward option two, seems like we'd get to see more of the coast for the same amount of time driving? Which is the bigger bang for our driving? I'm not sure which gets me closer to the "start" of the Big Sur Drive? Or if the drive from Cambria to Big Sur is a 'must-see' part of the coast?

Help. Thanks!!!


Santa Cruz...
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1. Re: Big Sur Drive Confusion, coming from Yosemite

If you have a hotel in Monterey after this drive I would definitely take the route that ends you there rather than backtracking.

I am really down on google maps right now. Have had three people today with BAD information from them.

Avila Beach...
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2. Re: Big Sur Drive Confusion, coming from Yosemite

You will definitely see more if you head through Cambria and north through Big Sur. The first way you will be backtracking and missing a large chunk of the beautiful coastal views. It will be a very long drive from Yosemite. Stop to see the elephant seals on your way north from San Simeon.

San Diego...
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3. Re: Big Sur Drive Confusion, coming from Yosemite

In my opinion... I’d rather get over to the coast and then see what you want to see. The drive from Yosemite to Cambria via Fresno is a boring 5-hour drive mostly through the flat, agricultural Central Valley of California. If this trip is in the summer, it will be hot there. If this trip is in the colder months, there is a possibility of the dreaded Tule Fog.

I would not want to spend 5 hours of driving through the Central Valley and then try to start the real sightseeing for the day after that - you would be too tired out to truly enjoy the Big Sur drive. And if it’s during a time of the year the days are short, you might end up driving on the coast after dark.

The way I would do it would be to get over from Yosemite to Monterey first. That’s going to be a 4-hour drive in itself. Then have lunch or whatever and spend the rest of that day in the Monterey/Carmel area. I’d recommend spending up to 4 hours at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, just south of Carmel. Easily worth a 4-hour time period. http://pointlobos.org Then have dinner in Carmel or Monterey.

Next morning, start from Monterey south on Highway 1 through Big Sur. Go all the way to Cambria if you want to, otherwise just go as far as you care to. Monterey to Cambria is 103 miles, about 2 hours and 15 minutes of driving time plus any time spent at stops along the way. So your total round trip would be 4.5 hours plus time spent at stops.

Or just drive part of the Big Sur coast. Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is the one with the cove that has the waterfall that lands on the beach. That would be one place to stop and turn around and go back up to Monterey if you didn’t want to go any further south.

The coast south of that point, while it’s beautiful, is bascially “more of the same” of what you already have seen. In fact the southern half of the Big Sur coast, though it’s more wild and undeveloped, is slightly less dramatic, the road is not as high above the ocean, and there are fewer trees. Just my opinion, after three trips through the Big Sur region.

You could spend that day visiting the parks along the Big Sur coast, including Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Andrew Molera State Park, Pfeiffer-Big Sur State Park, and even Pfeiffer Beach in the Los Padres National Forest. Then as that day is winding down, drive back north to Monterey, or if your destination for that night is San Francisco, continue north from Monterey to San Francisco.

General guides to the Big Sur drive are at http://jrabold.net/bigsur/ and http://bigsurcalifornia.org

A travelogue of the central coast area of California, posted by another member of this forum, is at https://picasaweb.google.com/Mjneenan/Califo…

Avila Beach...
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4. Re: Big Sur Drive Confusion, coming from Yosemite

bw may have points regarding driving lengths as I am not as familiar with the drive from Yosemite. In my opinion, I would disagree that the drive south of Julia Pfeiffer Burns is less dramatic, however. I make the drive frequently. I'm sure whichever way you go you will find the drive enjoyable. Point Lobos is also a wonderful location.

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5. Re: Big Sur Drive Confusion, coming from Yosemite

If you do not have any interest in Hearst Castle, i would skip Cambria

And take the shorter route via Rt 140 to Monterey.

6. Re: Big Sur Drive Confusion, coming from Yosemite

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