“a place where the sea meets the land… ”
I find entire California’s coastal line rather enchanting. Driving on Cabrillo highway is an absolute must once-in-a-life-time experience. Consider yourself lucky if you get to do it more than once. Consider yourself even luckier if you’re able to find a parking spot at one of the busiest state parks in all of California.
You’d like to fill your itinerary, top to bottom, with all sorts of stops along the “route 1” to make the best of this fantastic life-lasting road trip. Many visitors attempt to snap a shot on every turnout. Unimaginable natural features appear to come straight out of Natural Geographic journal. One place, in particular, keeps eluding tourists since the entrance is not overly emphasized anywhere along the PCH.
I would recommend taking as much time as you can while admiring Pacific Coast Highway and all the stops along the way. Just keep in mind that you will at least an entire day for the Point Lobos park. Considered to be the “crown jewel” of California’s 280 state parks. This title isn’t just tossed around between the parks. From the photographs below, hopefully you’ll realize what a wonder is located only a few hours away from you.
Free parking at Point lobos state park
You can actually park for free right at the entrance along the PCH. See the diagram below. Although parking within the park is about $10 for the entire day.
Park contains only a total of 5 tiny parking lots dispursed along the main road. Alternatively we recommend parking for free along the Route 1. That way, you will have an opportunity to explore more of the park on foot and cover many more fascinating features of California’s hidden corner.
Perhaps Point Lobos State Natural Reserve hasn’t gotten the National Park status since the title would draw too much unwanted attention. However the strip of land walkable within a day can rival all the National Parks within California if not the entire USA.
Note: Jokes aside, this spot like the Antelope Canyon in Utah, is an absolute must while visiting the west coast.
The natural features range from meadows to forest, to tall cliffs, to beaches, innervated with paths unlike anywhere else along the PCH shores. Here’s an excerpt from the State Parks website that does a better job describing what to expect:
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is outstanding for sightseeing, photography, painting, nature study, picnicking, SCUBA diving, and jogging. In addition to the spectacular beauty, nearly every aspect of its resources is of scientific interest. There are rare plant communities, endangered archeological sites, unique geological formations, and incredibly rich flora and fauna of both land and sea. Deriving its name from the offshore rocks at Punta de los Lobos Marinos, Point of the Sea Wolves, where the sound of the sea lions carries inland, the Reserve has often been called “the crown jewel of the State Park System”.Point Lobos State Natural Reserve
Point Lobos with kids
Like with any other ultra popular place you might want to drive up to the park as early as it opens – around 8:00 am. Paid parking (approximately $10/car) within the park is fairly limited. It really is a 50/50 shot especially if you’re coming later on in the day. Thus almost every time we pull up next to the front entrance of the park and parallel park on PCH.
We really enjoyed hiking at the Point Lobos prior to having our son and just as much afterwards. In fact, our dude was almost born in this magical neck of the woods. There’s just one thing to be on the lookout for – some of the hiking paths lay right near dangerous cliffs and you might want to keep an eye out for your little kids.
Additionally we’ve caught a few ticks one time while hiking at Point lobos. Do watch out for those little suckers and make sure to check your open skin areas after hiking – as you always should.
Point Lobos hiking plan in 3 parts
Honestly, we missed a good portion of the park on the first two visits. Point Lobos state preserve really is massive, despite how little it looks on the map. In fact we divided it in 3 parts – the North, the Central and the South – each boasting unique features worth exploring with your loved ones. More info to follow..
You might want to check out the following locations while driving on PCH from Los Angeles to San Francisco.