Los Padres National Forest

Big Sur

The tortuously winding 40-mile stretch of Hwy 1 south of Lucia to Hearst Castle is sparsely populated, rugged and remote, mostly running through national forest lands. Around 5 miles south of Kirk Creek Campground and Nacimiento-Fergusson Rd, almost opposite Plaskett Creek Campground, is Sand Dollar Beach. From the picnic area, it’s a five-minute walk to southern Big Sur’s longest sandy beach, a crescent-shaped strip of sand protected from winds by high bluffs. Nearby is Jade Cove and it's a short drive south to Salmon Creek Falls.

Heading south before leaving Lucia, make sure you’ve got at least enough fuel in the tank to reach the expensive gas stations at Gorda, about 11 miles south of Limekiln State Park, or Ragged Point, another 12 miles further south.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Big Sur attractions

1. Partington Cove

2.32 MILES

This is a raw, breathtaking spot where crashing surf salts your skin. On the steep, half-mile dirt hike down to the cove, you’ll cross a cool bridge and…

2. Henry Miller Memorial Library

3.53 MILES

Henry Miller lived in Big Sur for 17 years, some 5 miles south of this now nonprofit alternative art space and community center in the home of his late…

3. Henry Miller Memorial Library

3.56 MILES

Novelist Henry Miller was a Big Sur denizen from 1944 to 1962. More of a beatnik memorial, alt-cultural venue and bookshop, this community gathering spot…

4. Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

3.71 MILES

If you're chasing waterfalls, swing into this state park named for the daughter of some of the earliest European settlers to arrive in Big Sur. The…

5. Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

6.11 MILES

Big Sur's largest state park was named after the area's first European settlers who arrived in 1869. It has hiking trails looping through stately redwood…

6. Pfeiffer Beach

7.17 MILES

Pfeiffer Beach is at the heart of what Big Sur is all about – splendid, unusual scenery that's inspired generations of artists, writers, and travelers…

7. Big Sur Discovery Center

9.92 MILES

From the parking lot at Andrew Molera State Park, walk 0.125 miles south to this educational nature center to learn all about the endangered California…

8. Andrew Molera State Park

10.1 MILES

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…