When I close my eyes, I can still smell the fresh sea air and if I listen closely, the sound of the waves crashing onto the shore resonates in my ears. For a moment I feel like I’m back on Highway One taking in the beauty of California’s Pacific Coast…
Looking for another great California road trip? Read The Stunning 17-Mile Drive at Pebble Beach.
A road trip along scenic Highway One in Monterey County, California has been on my travel wish list for as long as I can remember. Seeing photographs of the rugged coastline, rolling hills, quaint beaches and famous historic bridges that seem to defy gravity have been embedded in my brain urging me to see the beauty of Highway One for myself! While I’m typically a planner, for this road trip I wanted to be relaxed and spontaneous, stopping wherever my heart desired along the coastline and at any of the must-see stops along the Pacific Coast Highway!
We started in Monterey and drove along the coast to the 17-Mile Drive at Pebble Beach. After completing the famous 17-Mile Drive, we stopped in Carmel-by-the-Sea to grab lunch at Bruno’s Market & Deli and set off to drive along scenic Highway One!
Leaving Carmel-by-the-Sea, we allowed the scenic highway to navigate our way south towards Big Sur. The thrill of coast-hugging curves, rolling hills and lush mountains, breathtaking vista overlooks with the sights and sounds of the ocean below, had me standing in awe of California’s Pacific Coast! Watching the content cows graze in the green grasslands along the coast, I found myself laughing at the television commercial about “Happy cows come from California” and I thought yes indeed, California cows are the envy of their bovine species! To have views like that while munching on fresh green grass, well, even I became a little envious of the four-legged creatures!!
We stopped at several coastal overlooks, even though just a short distance apart, differing spectacular views were abound! Driving further south on Highway One, we came upon the first of two historic concrete bridges built over eighty years ago, during the 1920-30’s. Completed in 1932, the Rocky Creek Bridge spans the Rocky Creek which flows into the Pacific Ocean. This reinforced concrete, open-spandrel arch bridge sets the scene for the larger and well-known Bixby Bridge. Also completed in 1932, the concrete Bixby Bridge soars 260 feet above Bixby Creek and the crumbling cliffs below. Noted as one of the highest bridges of its kind in the world, the Bixby Bridge seems to be the iconic symbol of Highway One along the Big Sur Coastline! Pulling over to marvel at the historic bridges, we began to ponder how these massive concrete structures were built during the “roaring twenties” and into the early thirties.
Gathering our thoughts, we sat overlooking the majestic Big Sur Coastline watching the waves crash onto the rocky shore below. For a few moments no words were exchanged between my husband and I, both in awe of the beauty in front of us. I thought to myself, how lucky I am to see the Pacific Coast with my own eyes, to feel the ocean breeze on my skin, and to be present in the moment at one of the most beautiful places in the world!
Since we had a long day of driving and late dinner reservations in Monterey, we decided to turn around to head back to our hotel. On the way south to Bixby Bridge, somewhere along the coast in a lush green canyon, I thought I saw a field of white flowers, so on the way back I wanted to find them! We must have pulled over at least a dozen times before finding the field of my dreams!! Parking the SUV in the sandy berm alongside the highway, at an unmarked path we hiked our way down into the canyon. As we made our way down the barely visible sand path among tall green foliage, beautiful white wild calla lilies abundantly appeared! Dozens of calla lilies, some almost as tall as me, decorated the lush canyon floor, just waiting on me to photograph their beauty! As I carefully walked the canyon floor surrounded by dozens of calla lilies, following the tranquil creek which flows into the ocean we stumbled upon a secluded beach and I thought to myself, this is paradise! We were the only two people in “Calla Lilly Canyon” in Garrapata State Park that day, as we were leaving a photographer was gathering his equipment from his car, we chatted for a few minutes about the breathtaking beauty of the Pacific Coast. I will always cherish the memory of finding the sea of wildflowers and secluded beach with the one I love!
Please enjoy a short slideshow of my journey along the spectacular Pacific Coast on Highway One!
That’s the thing about road trips, they create unexpected, incredible discoveries along the journey making for a lifetime of memories. Having the pleasure of taking numerous road trips across the United States and the world, I would have to say that Highway One in Monterey County is one of the most scenic road trips in the world!
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