First time driving to McWay falls in Big Sur
I remember the first time driving from Los Angeles to San Francisco, waiting with anticipation to find McWay Falls in Big Sur. I placed a pin on the Google Map, and so I was on the mission even though I was sidetracked to stop at almost every picturesque turn and twist of the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). I knew for sure that I will be photographing the legendary McWay Falls on the Pacific Coast, at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park later that day.
As my dot on the map grew closer to the target I was getting more excited with anticipation. To my disappointment, I came too late to the falls in the afternoon. All the traffic from SF beat me to it, given the closer proximity. There were absolutely no parking spots, PCH was jammed, I didn’t even make an attempt to circle back since there wasn’t a place for an apple to fall. I made a promise to myself to come back again!
McWay Falls at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park with family
Little did I know that the next time I will be coming back, I’d come back with a family of my own! It is always great to see new places with people you can share it with, and there’s no one better to share it with than your wife and son (and of course You our reader!)
I hope you enjoy our California Perspective adventures and will share it with your friends or use it as a motivator to get out there next weekend. Also, Don’t forget to check out the Little California Book with the checklist itinerary lists.
We were spending a weekend at Carmel-by-the-Sea and decided to finally make a drive to the McWay Falls in Big Sur. This time we came as early as we could and were able to find a spot at the parking lot across from the falls!
You can always park parallel on the PCH, though it’s less worrisome when you have a little one to find a secure parking. Then simply proceeded on a 5 min walk through the park and into a tunnel beneath Pacific Coast Highway.
McWay Falls in Big Sur with kids
The trip paid off! We finally got to see this marvel up close. After snapping a few shots we hiked up and down the short trail just taking in the aroma of eucalyptus trees and amazing colors of the Pacific Ocean.
We saw many families enjoying the views, even with little ones. The hiking around the McWay falls is a bit challenging since you’re going to have to hike up and down the rugged hilly terrain. However it is not as tireing as you might expect. So yeah! Bring the whole family and the kids.
Things you’ll see at the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
I’m not sure if we got lucky but I haven’t seen so many hues of blue, ranging from cyan to azure, to turquoise to teal and then to indigo & navy blue ! Seeing this natural palette of colors was already an experience, hopefully we conveyed these in our photos.
We learned that there’s a small camp ground located right above the falls (only two spaces available)! More info on staying at this campground is HERE.
Enjoy the pics and check out California Through My Lens blog who continues to inspire us to seek out interesting spots around California!
Check out this great hiking resource: LEOR PANTILAT’s ADVENTURES if your’e planning on hiking around the Big sur.
Also always check for the fire conditions, especially if you’re traveling with children!
Note from Big Sur local
I’d like to add a safety reminder Note from one of the locals who lives in the Big Sur. take it with a grain of salt, although please be mindful and respectful of other people’s lives!
If this is your article I would love to see some mention of common courtesy and proper behavior when visiting the area. Big Sur is incredibly impacted with heavy traffic right now and doesn’t need more advertising to bring in even more people. What it needs is more responsible visitors. JPB park in particular is incredibly unsafe and has poor parking conditions. Legally the drivable portion of the highway is any portion that is paved. Parking on paved portion of the road is illegal. I concede that rule is not enforced but at a minimum make sure you park all the way off the highway. Any portion of your vehicle hanging out over the white line into the road is a hazard. The speed limit on the highway is 55 mph and many people like to drive as close to that as possible. Don’t stop in the middle of the road or walk in the middle of the road. Some very severe accidents have happened at that park due to poor behavior. Also make sure that you stay on trail. The beach below the falls is closed and access is prohibited. Many people try to go down there and the lucky ones survive and need to be rescued by S&R. Don’t go off trail for your own safety and for the safety of the environment. The beautiful Big Sur environment is frequently trampled and destroyed or filled with trash and human waste by the visitors who are here to enjoy it. Also enjoy the drive and take your time coming down the highway but pay attention to the cars behind you. There are people who are trying to get to work or go to pick up their kids from school and just want to get there efficiently and quickly. Pull over for other vehicles. There are ample paved and unpaved turnouts along the road many with spectacular views that people miss because they are not the “it” spots. Pull over, let the vehicles go past you and enjoy a view that you didn’t think you would get to see. Make sure you plan ahead for bathrooms they are sparse along the coast and going on the side of the road is becoming an issue in the area. Please don’t go in someones driveway. It happens and it sucks. Just some items I would love to see one day in these types of articles. I know it is less glamorous but Big Sur has an over abundance of glamorized articles about how beautiful and romantic it is and not nearly enough reminding people to not trash the place or act rudely on their way through.
Many thanks! That’s our California Perspective for today! Have fun exploring Monterey bay and the Big Sur.