Rocky Creek Bridge doesn’t get as much rep as Bixby Bridge and it really should
Whenever you think of Pacific Coast Highway you might think of Big Sur, and immediately the infamous shot of the Bixby Bridge comes to mind. That aerial image of car commercials is almost embroiled into our memories, along with the view of McWay falls.
Nevertheless there are several more really cool bridges in the Big Sur worthy of Instagram. We introduce you to the 1932’s Rocky Creek Bridge! The views from this bridge far exceed Bixby’s seascapes!
Today we are going to look at some views from the Rocky Creek Bridge and compare them to Bixby bridge.
We were spending our typical weekend at Lovers Point in Pacific Groove, lounging in perfect continental climate out on the beach. Naturally we decided to drive to Nepenthe for lunch. Once we were on the road it was impossible not to make a quick stop to take in all the panoramic views.
Check out these base jumpers taking a leap off of a Bixby bridge
Interestingly enough both bridges are located within a 1 minute drive of each other & sometimes even confused for one another by the tourists! Located only 20 minutes away from Carmel by The Sea, past Point Lobos.
These two are probably most photographed of all the bridges with an exception of the Golden Gate Bridge. Bixby & Rocky Creek bridge were opened in 1932 making a passage of un-drivable portion of PCH obsolete. Big Sur residents could now easily commute to the nearby town of Monterey & Carmel.
Quick History reference regarding the Rainbow bridge
After the bridge was completed, it was at times known as the Rainbow Bridge, due to the presence of the Rainbow Lodge resort on the creek upstream from the bridge. It was operated by former Army Captain Howard Sharpe and his wife, Frida. After timber harvesting was no longer profitable, Sharpe bought the Bixby Creek Canyon ranch in 1919. He built a dirt road from the lodge up the canyon to Bixby Landing and another road down to the beach at the mouth of Bixby Creek. He sold part of his land to the state as part of the bridge right-of-way in 1930. When the bridge was completed and tourists no longer needed to descend to his lodge on the creek, he built a new lodge on the highway north of the bridge.
Despite the fact that Bixby bridge draws larger visitor crowds, the views opening up from the Rocky Creek Bridge are far more attractive (in my humble opinion). Clearly photographer and videographers will find both structures an enjoyable subject .
Note: High Speed wind advisory
in 2016 couple of base jumpers were swept into the ocean and gone forever…
Checkout the view from the Rocky Creek Bridge:
Checkout the view from the Bixby Bridge:
Rocky Creek Bridge vs Bixby Bridge with kids
These two places spell our D A N G E R ! Unprotected cliffs and sharp 30-40 even 70 meters (near the bridge piers) drops will make your jaw drop. Any thrill seekers get their full load of adrenaline just by peeking over the edge of the cliff. Seriously, on a windy day the decent to the lower tiers of the observation grounds is absolutely nerve-tickling. We categorically do not recommend bringing little kids down to the observation areas. AGAIN! We do not recommend taking your kids down to observation points, stay at the top!
Photographing the iconic crown jewels of Pacific Coast Highway
I stumbled upon this amazing historical resource the Pat Hathaway Photo Collection. Where you can check out the earlier photos. Many people bring drones for aerial video , however keep in mind that the weather condition are often suboptimal in this rugged portion of Big Sur with high speed winds. Btw. The best time to photograph the icons is during the Golden Hour of sunset.
Given the central location of the bridges they make a perfect stop on your drive whenever you visit Julia Pfeiffer Burns beach or the McWay Falls. Also the bridges are located only 15 minutes away from the Point Lobos State park in Carmel (which I would highly recommend to visit).
Check out the Calla lily valley below the Rock Creek Bridge! Visit our Calla Lilly photo experience at the Garrapata State Beach.
Calla lilly valley is located mid-way between the Point lobos state park and the Rocky Creek Bridge.
Side note: apparently this part of California in Big Sur is home to orchids! What ? yes the rugged slopes of the mountainous terrain houses a rare species of piperia yadonii. Perhaps you’ll be able to spot them!
Simply beautiful coastal scape! We will be back again soon!
Here’s a cool, almost professional video of Big Sur featuring the Bixby bridge
Check list of more cool things in the area to do with your children