The adventures continue as Steve and I make our way north through California. There has been an incredible amount of beautiful scenery on the rugged coast and in the immense redwood forests. Keep reading to find out what we did and to see photos of our travels!
After having a blast in the Eastern Sierra region (Alabama Hills and Mammoth Lakes) we drove west to the California coast. Our original plans had us exploring as much of the coast as possible, but some recent (and historically huge) landslides meant that we would have to start north of the slides and skip a chunk of the Big Sur area. Despite this setback, we saw some incredible scenery and drove on some amazing roads. Keep reading to see where we went!
Big Sur to Santa Cruz
We started by driving south along the coast on Route 1 to see how far we could get. We were able to get as far south as the town of Big Sur before running into the “road closed” signs.
As bummed as we were that Pfeiffer Beach and McWay Falls were inaccessible, the views we saw along our drive were some of the best I have ever seen! We stopped at almost every viewpoint and turnoff, trying to soak in the incredible beauty. The brilliant blue water of the Pacific Ocean shimmered far below steep cliffs covered in fields of yellow wildflowers. Here are just a handful of the many amazing photos we took along the California coast!
We also stopped by the famous Bixby Creek Bridge for some photos! There were a lot of other people there, but it was a beautiful viewpoint.
And we took a selfie, for good measure!
After a lovely drive through the Big Sur area, we headed back north along the coast to Davenport to check out the old abandoned pier. This is an odd structure where a pier used to be, but now all that remained were the cement pylons that used to hold up the pier. We wandered around on the steep cliff above, looking down on the scene as the sun slowly set. There appeared to be a steep and treacherous-looking path down to the beach, but we chose not to take it and instead enjoyed the awesome views from above.
Shark Fin Cove
Another beautiful spot that we checked out near Davenport was Shark Fin Cove. Thankfully this was a pin on our custom Google Map, or we may have missed this incredible spot! There were no signs on the street and nothing indicating there was anything to see down below. We had done our research ahead of time and knew exactly which unmarked dirt pull-off spot was the correct parking area. There was a steep but short path of loose dirt that led down to the beach. If you go here, be sure to wear sneakers or boots and not flip flops on this trail!
Shark Fin Cove is named for the giant rock in the ocean which looks very much like a shark fin. We were there around sunset, but I think the scene may have been even more beautiful at some time in the morning when the sunlight would be lighting up the shark fin.
This was a really beautiful cove, that also included a small cave that waves crashed in and out of.
We saw some really huge waves and enjoyed how the ocean sounds echoed off of the walls surrounding us. Unfortunately, this area was also very dirty and poorly maintained. There was a ton of trash that had been left behind by people and the rock walls were covered with graffiti. I was very disappointed to see such a beautiful place treated so poorly and covered in garbage. We all need to treat our natural places with more respect!
Our next stop on the California coast was Glass Beach near Fort Bragg. This beach used to be a dump in the early 1900s and the town would literally push their trash into the ocean. Over the years, the waves broke apart and smoothed the glass from the trash into beautiful, colorful pieces of sea glass.
The first evening when we arrived, we checked out the main beach, located just behind a parking lot with pit toilets. The main beach was a bit disappointing, as I was expecting fields of glass but it was mostly a rough, rocky beach.
The next morning we came back and found the other glass beach, just south of the main beach. This second beach, which is only accessible at low tide, has much more of the beautiful sea glass. Most of the glass is a cloudy white color but there are also green and brown pieces and occasionally you can find some lovely blue, teal, yellow, and pink!
The signs around the beach said not to take any of the sea glass, which seems strange considering it’s actually just trash! However, at the Sea Glass Museum that we visited later in the day, there were signs saying that it is technically legal to take the glass but that you should replace it with “seed glass” that they sold at the gift shop. According to the museum, the sea glass has actually become a life-sustaining source in the ocean. The museum owner claimed that sea creatures feed off of the minerals from the glass and other animals make their home in the crevices between the glass stones. It is very tempting to take the beautiful pieces of glass, and I saw people collecting it by the bagful. I recommend checking out the museum first before going to the beach to decide if you want to take the glass.
The museum itself was really neat (and free!) with a huge and impressive collection of large glass pieces of glass in every color of the rainbow! There were also pieces of metal, pottery, animal bones, and other artifacts from the sea.
After the NorCal coast, our next stop was the unbelievable redwoods and the stunning southern Oregon coast, but I will save those for my next blog post! In the meantime, please let me know if you have any suggestions for Oregon and Washington! Find me on Instagram: (@carrieoutdoors) and don’t forget to check out the amazing accounts I recommended at the top of my blog!