Here’s your daily travel guide to the best adventures and experiences in the Golden State. Each of these essential California adventures has been tried and tested by a Travel section staffer or contributor.
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Why: McWay Falls, the splashiest attraction in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, roars down 80 feet from granite and redwoods to a creamy Big Sur beach and implausibly turquoise cove. It’s the cascade that other waterfalls want to be. It’s also a perfectly impossible California destination, because you can’t stand under these falls. There’s no safe way to the beach.
What: The hike is more of a stroll, really. It’s about half a mile, mostly flat. (And the rest of the park remains mostly closed because of mudslides and other damage done by the Soberanes Fire of 2016.) Once you’ve passed through a short tunnel under Highway 1 and made a right turn, you’ll soon be standing on a rocky perch where a house once stood, looking south to the beach and falls.
This is an invitation to chill. For one thing, the trail has ended. Also, like Yosemite Falls — which led off our California Bucket List project on Jan. 1 — McWay Falls is a sort of perpetuity made plain. The water keeps coming, even if it’s in short supply elsewhere. And the cell reception is so rotten that you’ll probably never get an Instagram photo posted from here.
So have a seat. Notice that there’s a great view to the north also. Think about all the writers and composers (beginning with James Joyce, Richard Wagner, Al Green and Teeny Hodges) who have chosen to start and end their works with running water. Or think about nothing.
Where: Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, mile marker 35.8 in Big Sur, 37 miles south of Carmel, 286 miles northwest of downtown L.A. Highway 1 is expected to remained closed at Mud Creek (27 miles south of McWay Falls) through September 2018. That means travelers from the south have two options. One is to detour from Highway 101 north of Paso Robles via Jolon Road and the 24-mile, narrow, winding Nacimiento-Fergusson Road (a star on dangerousroads.org). The other choice is driving up to Salinas on the 101, cutting over to Carmel, then coming back south on Highway 1.
How much: $10.