Sunday, February 14, 2010

Half Moon Bay to Big Sur, California

The California coast from Half Moon Bay to Big Sur is a special part of the world.  State Parks and public beach access are found every few miles.  The fog changes the landscape and the views.  On the same day, in a few miles, you can go from dreamy, foggy landscapes to brilliant sunshine.

The fog has it's own charm and beauty.  A few miles up the road, a completely different weather scene is viewed.
The south end of the central coast ends as Big Sur begins.  If you have not driven the Big Sur coastline, do it as soon as possible.  It has been called the grandest meeting of land and sea in the world.  The good news is that there are Forest Service campgrounds with reasonable camping rates along the way.  More on this later.

But for now.  Here is the magnificent central coastline.
California has long been known for high priced homes.  Well, now it is famous for high priced campgrounds and state parks.  Fortunately, along the drive down the coastline there are free beach accesses.  One favorite is Pebble Beach which has no fee, dogs allowed on leash, and most important, tidepools that are easy to access and explore. 

A few miles away is Bean Hollow State Park that offers grills, picnic tables, and a nice beach where you can walk your dog on leash.  Again, no fee for this site.

It appears the fee charges are based on how easy it is to collect the fee, rather than the attractiveness of the area.  Along the way, several beach accesses have nice walks to the beach so you can get in your daily exercise.

We drove from Santa Cruz to Half Moon Bay, stopping along the way at the bakery in Davenport.  Expensive and average in quality.  Oh well, maybe the next one will be better.  Driving back down puts all the beach accesses on the right side of the road so you do not have to cross traffic.

We did the drive on a Saturday and it appeared all of California was driving the highway.  It is crowded in this state!!  So plan your trip for a weekday if possible.  Also, like most of California, this drive is best done in late winter or early spring to minimize the time spent in fog banks. 

Here is what most folks dream about finding along the California coast.  Yes, you can find this for a day camp!!  This is a county park.  As Tioga George says, "Day camps and night camps are completely different."

We did see a few night camps along one side of Highway One, however, I suspect they are going to get a visit from the State Patrol, probably sooner, rather than later.  George has also had problems finding night camps in this area.

Here is the sad truth about boondocking along California's central coast.  It doesn't exist! It is an expensive place to camp and visit. 

We will cover the camping situation in our next posting.  Until then, consider the Big Sur and the central coast of California as you head north from the southwest in the next few months.  It is a special place, and unfortunately, it probably will get more crowded and regulated in the future.

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