Highway 1 Road Closure:
A major attraction to California, the Highway 1 coastal route offers breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and the remarkable coast communities along the way. But, sometimes the iconic road trip you planned takes a different route. Our recent adverse weather conditions have created some major issues that will not be resolved for some time. The Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge in the Big Sur area will have to be removed and replaced and there is no definite date on when that will happen, so at this time, there is no way to traverse Highway 1 between Carmel and Cambria. However, the good news is that you can still easily reach Cambria and get a taste of the Big Sur experience by taking Highway 101 and 46 west to reconnect with Highway 1. It is actually the preferred route of locals and California residents. It is faster and a far more relaxing drive than the twists and turns on the 2-lane Highway 1.
When you see this image of the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge, you understand the nature of this closure and the likelihood of it being a while before it reopens to through traffic. The resorts at Esalen, Nepenthe, and Hermitage are closed as they are completely inaccessible unless by helicopter. But your Big Sur experience is merely a detour away. The road trip you take to get to Cambria from Northern California takes you down Highway 101, which runs north to south, and at one time it was the main road.
We have some great stops along the way with vista points you are unlikely to find on your official maps. Leaving the Bay Area you connect with 101 south. The further south you go, the traffic thins, the buildings are more sparse and you begin to enjoy the central farmlands of California. You will pass through the famous garlic capital of Gilroy, and along the way, you will have the chance to visit some of California’s Missions at Soledad, San Juan Bautista, and San Miguel! This insightful look into California’s past is an easy access from 101 so take some time to stop and visit the iconic architecture while learning about the missions. The last real stop for a bite to eat or pit stop along the way is Salinas, which happens to have a really good In ’n Out if you want a classic California burger! The rest of the drive is along farmlands and rural Central California, There are not many stops along the way until you reach Paso Robles.
Paso Robles Wine Country:
The Paso Robles Wine Country is often referred to as the “New Napa” with a wide variety of vineyards and some excellent restaurants, many centrally located around the main park on 10th St. (Spring St exit) There are many wineries and tasting rooms along the way from Paso Robles to Cambria and Highway 46 is dotted with vineyards. We have some of our favorites listed here=>Paso Robles Wine Country. The 30 miles from 101 to the coast provide some of the most panoramic views of this beautiful area. As you approach the summit, you will see some large turnouts with views that on a clear day, stretch all the way to Big Sur and beyond Morro Bay. The spectacular rolling hillsides are bright green and lush with grasses from our recent rains. This wildflower season should be one of the best in a long time. As you cruise along 46, surrounded by rolling hillsides, take time to notice the farmhouses along the way. These are working farms and many have been farmed for generations. About 10 miles before you reach Cambria, Jack Creek Farms is a wonderful stop for fruits, vegetables, and a fun stop with the family to see the farm animals.
Highway 1 to Cambria, Hearst Castle, and Big Sur:
Highway 46 ends at Highway 1, and you travel north on Highway 1 just 4 miles to reach Cambria and about 10 to Hearst Castle. The road is accessible all the way up to Ragged Point, where you can still get the Big Sur experience during this road closure. Take a day trip up to the point for lunch and stop at the Lighthouse for a tour and visit the Elephant Seal Rookery on your way back to Cambria. Be sure to keep a lookout for the zebras that live in San Simeon near Hearst Castle. They can often be spotted roaming in the fields with the cattle.