The amazing thing about the West Coast is that it is still mostly wild, open, and astoundingly beautiful country, where you can drive for miles and miles and have the scenery all to yourself.
Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park
Roughly a half mile south of Big Sur village, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is the region’s main event, a 1,000-acre riverside forest that’s one of the most pleasant (and popular) parks in the state. Besides offering a full range of visitor services—restaurant, lodge, riverside campground, and grocery store—the park includes one of Big Sur’s best short hikes, a three-mile loop on the Valley View trail that takes in stately redwoods, a 60-foot waterfall, and a grand vista down the Big Sur valley to the coast. The park also has the main ranger station (831/667-2315) for all the state parks in the Big Sur area. Just south of the park entrance, a USFS ranger station (831/667-2423) on the east side of Hwy-1 has information on hiking and camping opportunities in the mountains above Big Sur, including the isolated (but poison oak-ridden) Ventana Wilderness.