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advice on drive in big sur

toronto
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advice on drive in big sur

So i've been reading quite a bit on the scenic drive down Hwy 1 around Big Sur area (ie from Carmel to Cambria heading south).

The more i read, the more nervous and fear i feel as many posts strongly recommend driving north vs south due to the narrow lanes, hairpin turns and being on the edge of the cliff.

Are there any barriers along the edge if i'm heading south? Whats the weather like in mid august.....ie is it typically rainfall?

I have a simple compact vehicle i'm renting, so i'm hoping its not so windy either to rock the vehicle as we drive this escalation.

Don't get me wrong...i'm not narotic on the road or one with his head pinned above the steering wheel when driving...I'm a pretty good driver and relaxed...but i do have some fears of heights.

Am i worried for no reason?

thanks

Cambria, California
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for San Simeon, Cambria
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1. Re: advice on drive in big sur

If the road was dangerous, it wouldn't be as heavily traveled as it is. Yes, it winds on the edge of the mountain range, and in several areas there isn't a buffer, except for the stone walls on the cliff side of the road. But there are also many inland areas where you're among the trees or have turnouts between you and the edge of the mountains. It can be foggy in summer. In my opinion, the most dangerous part is the people in a hurry behind you. I pull out often so as not to feel pushed by people wanting to go too fast. If you're really tense about it, I'd suggest taking the road to the north, so you're on the mountain side. It's too fascinating and beautiful a drive to have bad memories of because you were too nervous to enjoy it.

Los Angeles
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for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park
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2. Re: advice on drive in big sur

There is *never* any guarantee of barriers on the shore side of Highway Oe, nor or there being two lanes or even of it being open.

Weather happens.

Chances are, it will be a quiet, two-lane drive, easily do-able by anyone who has a bit of driving experience (while gawking).

But there have been rains (usually starting much later in the year than September) that can wash out a section, cause a detour, and a lack of barriers.

But 99% of the time, it's very drivItable (although terrified drivers can make some sections rather slow).

Ít's a modern, two-lane highway with adequate shoulder right now and for most of the time.

Stone walls? yeah, there are a few - but mostly it's those metal barriers (if that).

Do pull out often if people are tail-gating you, makes the whole drive peaceful and nice. It is definitely and completely the people who are the problem.

This photo was taken by a Mr. Bixby in 1999 (after repair to the road):

http://www.caviews.com/bixbyph.htm

No rock walls. Anyone have a more recent picture?

You can actually "drive" the road on Google and see how often it hugs the cliffs and how often it is away from the drop-off. It's not all right on the edge. WHen it is on the edge, some people drive verrrry slowly. That's just part of it.

Los Angeles
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3. Re: advice on drive in big sur

*One*.

Monterey Peninsula...
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4. Re: advice on drive in big sur

When my wife worked at a local B&B several years ago she had several guests from flat states like Kansas who found the Big Sur drive to be pretty intimidating. Many turned back before getting very far.

If you've driven winding mountain roads before this won't be too much different, but if you're used to mostly flat roads or gently rolling hills this will be a very different experience. Overall you'll average about 35-40 MPH - again that's average. On many portions you can get it up to 55 with no trouble. On other sections you'll be going no faster than 25. If you are nervous about heights, driving north will feel much more comfortable.

The highest point of the entire highway is between the Bixby Bridge and the Little Sur River at a place called Hurricane Hill. It climbs to 600 feet above the ocean and back almost to sea level in a fairly short distance. If you're driving south everything after that is relatively easy.

Strong winds or rain are unlikely in mid August. But fog is a real possibility.

-Mr. Toy

www.montereypeninsula.info

Cambria, California
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for San Simeon, Cambria
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5. Re: advice on drive in big sur

The stone parapets were built when the Carmel-San Simeon highway was first constructed and completed in 1937. There are those, as well as the standard guard rails, going southbound.

FYI, there has been construction work at Lucia and a few miles north of Lucia that has slowed down traffic on the highway...there are even a couple of spots where they've put stop-lights for traffic control when it's down to one lane. Just to let you know in case you are driving with any time constraints.

Grover Beach...
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for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
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6. Re: advice on drive in big sur

It's one of my favorite drives! As Wanderluster pointed out... there are several areas of roadway that that are not on the edge of doom. Just take the drive slow, use the turn-outs for faster traffic to get around you and enjoy the ride.

As a kid, I was the nervous Nellie in the car. I imagine I drove my dad crazy back then with my passenger fears. I remember being in the high country of Yosemite and seeing Tioga Road and exclaiming "we're not going on that road, are we?" haha

Guess I got over my fears, because I LOVE driving Highway 1... either way, doesn't matter. It's a great drive and not to be feared. The highway is signed for the hairpin turns letting you know how fast to take them. Just heed the MPH suggestions and you'll be fine.

Central Point...
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7. Re: advice on drive in big sur

By all means, if you have experience driving on mountain roads, try it. As a kid, I used to pass out when we drove up 1. Now I love it and have driven both ways with little trepidation several times. I do make sure to plan for a non-foggy part of the day, and can even drive it fine at night, probably because I can't see over the edge. The road itself is good, except for construction areas. It is easily one of the most beautiful drives on the coast!

8. Re: advice on drive in big sur

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