Big Sur :
The legendary Big Sur coast, located between San Simeon and Carmel, includes ninety-miles of some of the world's most spectacular coastline. Sheer cliffs overlooking the Pacific, verdant redwood forests, and the steep Santa Lucia mountains that converge into the sea, all characterize this breathtaking coastal region. Originally known as "El Sur Grande", Spanish for "the big south", when it was an inaccessible and uncharted land along the coast south of the Monterey Peninsula, Big Sur has remained to this day an area of rugged and untamed wilderness. When visiting this area, enjoy the slow-paced life style, and be sure to leave your worries behind.
Big Sur is an ideal place for nature lovers and adventurers; most Big Sur activities revolve around the outdoors in one way or another. Camping, hiking, fishing, and mountain biking are some of the activities that the area offers. Several state parks throughout the region are premier destinations for outdoor enthusiasts and adventurers. Due to its remote location and undeveloped nature, there are an enormous variety of plants and animals in the Big Sur region. Deer, mountain lions, raccoons, otters, sea lions, harbor seals, and elephant seals are just a few of the mammals found in the region. This coast is also a prime area for observing whales from shore, especially during the gray whale migration. Birds are also found in abundance in the area, and include: red-tail hawks, owls, scrub and Steller's jays, kingfishers, bald and golden eagles, numerous seabirds and shorebirds and even the extremely large and rare California condor.
Less adventurous visitors can catch a glimpse of Big Sur's natural beauty by driving along coastal Highway 1. This route along the Big Sur coast is one of the most beautiful roads in the world; in fact it was designated as the first Scenic Highway in California. This stretch of highway did not open until 1937, following 18 years of construction (much of it done by prison laborers on work programs). Highway 1 winds its way along the coast and through redwood forests, and provides stunning views of the coastal mountains and the Pacific. There are a number of roadside pullouts and other great places to stop along the way to take in the amazing scenery.
The renowned Big Sur International Marathon is held each April, and attracts world-class runners and amateurs alike. This challenging race spans 26-miles of spectacular coastline from Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park to Carmel. The marathon, which began as a small event in 1985, raises large sums of money each year for local charities.
Although Big Sur remains a wild and undeveloped place, there are a few restaurants, cabins, campgrounds, lodges, resorts, and spas. The village of Big Sur is on Highway 1 located about 25 miles south of Carmel; there are a few campgrounds, hotels, restaurants, and shops in this area. There are also a few facilities in Lucia and Gorda further south.
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