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Pacific Coast Highway - California's Route 1

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At least two days for a quick trip, but many days or even weeks could be spent exploring the length of this byway.
Toll at the Golden Gate Bridge; Fees at campgrounds and parks along the way.


Stretching from sunny "So Cal" to the shady forests of the north, this coastal highway winds along one of the prettiest stretches of shore to be found anywhere in the U.S. Though the road is more than 600 miles long and in summer, sometimes congested, it doesn't take a world traveler to see why this route garners acclaim as an unofficial scenic byway. Expect to find in transit postcard worthy seascapes (think ocean waves crashing with a shower of foam against rocky cliffs as the sun sinks to the west in a show of sherbet hues), dozens of historic landmarks and a truly varied range of outdoor activities to choose from along the way. Though there are some very long rural stretches - the Big Sur Coast, for example - this highway also comes within striking distance of extremely urban areas, from San Diego and L.A. at its southern end to the busy Bay Area more than halfway to the top. A traveler could deposit their car just north of the Mexican border and drive on maintained highway, much of it right on the coast, north to the Canadian Border, the actual California Pacific Coast Highway is generally said to begin as Route 1 at San Juan Capistrano South of Los Angeles and end where Route 1 merges with Highway 101 at Leggett South of Eureka. To confuse matters, some stretches are part of the Cabrillo Highway and the Shoreline Highway but really in this case, the name doesn't matter so much, so long as you stick to HWY1 or HWY101 once you've passed Leggett. The highway is not yet an official California Dedicated Scenic Highway, but is eligible.

Points of Interest Along The Way

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park (CA)

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park stretches from the Big Sur coastline into nearby 3,000-foot ridges. The park features redwood, tan oak, madrone, chaparral, and an 80-foot waterfall that drops from granite cliffs into the ocean from the Overlook Trail. A panoramic view of the ocean and miles of rugged coastline is available from the higher elevations along the trails east of Highway 1.

The park also has a 1,680-acre underwater reserve which protects a spectacular assortment of marine life. Special-use permits allow experienced scuba divers to explore the reserve. Seals, sea lions and sea otters can be seen in the park's cove. Hikers can discover the park's backcountry via several trail systems.


North of Big Sur

At least two days for a quick trip, but many days or even weeks could be spent exploring the length of this byway.
Main Roads:
CA-1 N
Toll at the Golden Gate Bridge; Fees at campgrounds and parks along the way.
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Monterey PeninsulaIn Carmel-by-the-Sea you can dine at a number of four-star restaurants or eat al fresco at the beach. You can collect art or just covet art at almost 100 galleries and antique shops and you can buy anything from trinkets to Tiffanys. Even those who travel the world are unlikely to encounter another place that has so much to offer in one location.
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