Cornforth Images

Big Sur

The Big Sur Coast is a sparsely populated region of the central California coast where the Santa Lucia Mountains rise abruptly from the Pacific Ocean. The terrain offers stunning views, making Big Sur a popular tourist destination. Big Sur’s Cone Peak is the highest coastal mountain in the lower 48 states, ascending nearly a mile above sea level, only three miles from the ocean.

It is impossible to generalize about the weather in Big Sur, because the jagged topography causes many separate microclimates. This is one of the few places on Earth where redwoods grow within sight of cacti. The land use restrictions that preserve Big Sur’s natural beauty also mean that tourist accommodations are limited, often expensive, and fill up quickly during the busy summer season. Besides sightseeing from the highway, Big Sur offers hiking, mountain climbing, and other outdoor activities.

Photography along the Big Sur Coast is mainly from the pullouts that are accessed from the road. Garapata State Park, Rocky Creek Bridge, and Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park are some of the most dramatic viewpoints.