Located 150 miles south of San Francisco and 300 miles north of Los Angeles, where the land meets the sea, is a majestic place called Big Sur, California, USA. A 90-mile stretch of coastline between Carmel and Hearth Castle, along scenic Highway One, Big Sur has gained worldwide popularity because of the beautiful scenery. It is a popular spot for hikers, backpackers, and those who simply want to breathe in the beauty of nature.
The climate in Big Sur is fairly mild year round, but can vary from location to location. There is generally good weather in the winter, but it is the rainy season and there are some storms that come in off of the ocean. About 70% of the rain occurs in the winter months between December and March.
If you want to experience the annual gray whale migration, then you will want to visit Big Sur during the wintertime when gray whales from Alaska migrate south to the warm waters of Mexico to breed and have their babies. The migration south passes through the waters near Big Sur around mid-December and gray whale sightings are plentiful. In February and March you can see the male and single female gray whales swimming back north. Starting mid-March, you will be able to see gray whale mothers with their babies at their sides migrating back to the feeding grounds near Alaska.
Springtime livens up the area with California poppies and wildflowers blossoming along with the many other different plants and flowers in the various microclimates found in the Big Sur area. Some of these plants only grow in this special coastal climate found in Big Sur.
The summer time is usually the best weather in the Big Sur area and is a good time to explore the hiking trails with their grand ocean views and ancient redwood forests. Tubing and swimming in the Big Sur River is a popular summertime family activity. Some of the places around the river offer tube rentals for the day.
Summertime is a good time to explore the rich tide pools along the ocean. At low tide, you can walk out to several of these and watch all of the small creatures and life forms go about their activities in these small pools.
One of the best loved spots in Big Sur is Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Located 26 miles south of Carmel on Highway One, the 810-acre state park is home to beautiful redwood trees, willows, oak trees, and a variety of animals including boars, raccoons and many types of birds. There are developed camping sites in the area with group camping down to family/individual sites.
Approximately twenty-three miles south of Carmel is Big Sur’s largest state park, Andrew State Park. The park has a mile-long path adorned with flowers and sycamore trees all the way to a sandy beach. Andrew State Park also offers developed camping spots and even semi-developed Environmental Camping spots that you have to hike to.
The campgrounds in Big Sur are popular and are often full. Reservations fill up quickly and are sometimes booked weeks or months in advance. If you want to camp in the Big Sur area and don’t want to spend hours stopping at several sites hoping for an empty spot, it is a good idea to make reservations ahead of time.
Lodging can be expensive in the Big Sur area and travelers on a tight budget shouldn’t count on finding a cheap hotel to sleep in; especially without advance reservations. The Big Sur area is not highly developed and doesn’t offer any larger grocery or department stores so if you need supplies or food; it is a good idea to stock up before you get to this area. There are small type convenience stores, but these will not offer a large variety of supplies or many good deals on food.
Big Sur is a unique place with many things you can only see here. This is nice place to explore if you want to travel slow and see many natural splendors.