Monday, August 20, 2007

The Coastal Highway

The California Coastal Highway between Los Angeles and San Francisco is spectacular. I don't think I have driven a more beautiful or challenging stretch of road as between Cambria and Monterey.

Soaring mountains on one side and plunging cliffs to the sea on the other. Rockslides are not uncommon and twice I was delayed by crews clearing boulders. This route is not for the weak of heart! You need to be alert and steady on this narrow road that often twists and turns thousands of feet above the ocean with no guardrails.

Some folks like to take 17 mile drive near Carmel in addition to the coastal highway but realize that they charge $8 to enter. (The 45 minute route is organized into about 20 stops and provides a more manicured version of the coastal highway.)

I was surprised at how many hiking trails are available on this stretch and many scenic pull-overs. This is not the fastest route since speeds can slow to 15 miles per hour in some places and rarely top 40. The rewards are worth it if you’re not in a hurry and can explore the coast and all it has to offer. Make sure to gas up since towns are few and far between here. This is a great driving experience.

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