Named after the farmer who first planted artichokes in California, this oft-overlooked park is a trail-laced pastiche of grassy meadows, ocean bluffs and rugged sandy beaches offering excellent wildlife-watching. Look for the entrance just over 8 miles south of Bixby Bridge. Note that floods in 2018 closed numerous hiking trails. Check the website for current conditions.
South of the parking lot, you can learn all about endangered California condors as well as long-term species recovery and monitoring programs inside the Big Sur Discovery Center.
From the main parking lot, a short walk along the beach-bound trail passes through a first-come, first-served campground, from where a gentle spur trail leads to the 1861 redwood Cooper Cabin, Big Sur’s oldest building. Keep hiking on the main trail out toward a wild beach where the Big Sur River runs into the ocean; condors may be spotted circling overhead and migrating whales sometimes cruise by offshore.