Highway 1 curves through Big Sur along the cliffs where the Santa Lucia Mountains and Pacific Ocean meet.
Driving Highway 1 during storms can be dangerous during daylight and treacherous at night. Gravel, mud, trees, large rocks, even entire hillsides, can slide onto the roadway. The northbound lane is most likely to contain slide debris, though both lanes may be covered. Slides most often occur on Highway 1 between Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn (MM 43) and Ragged Point Inn and Resort (MM -2), though slides may occur anywhere. Driving through roadway debris from slides may result in punctured tires, bent wheel rims, and vehicle undercarriage damage including broken drivetrain and suspension components. Tow trucks may take one, two, or more hours to arrive. Cell phone service is unavailable in most areas.
Highway 1 routinely closes at Mud Creek (MM 9) and Paul’s Slide (MM 23) during storms. Visit the web sites below for current road closure status.
The only road access to Highway 1 through the Santa Lucia Mountains for the 100 miles (160 kilometers) between Carmel Valley Highway (to the north) and Highway 46 (to the south) is Naciemento-Fergusson Rd (MM 19). From Highway 1, Naciemento-Fergusson Rd rises 2,750 feet (847 meters) over seven miles (11 kilometers) with an average elevation grade of 7.5%. In addition to being steep, the road is narrow and twisty, with blind corners and precipitous drops. There are no guard rails or street lamps. Drivers may encounter sand, mud, gravel, rocks, and trees from slides on the roadway. Timid drivers, and those driving large recreation vehicles and vehicles towing trailers may wish to choose an alternate route.
Locals who drive Highway 1 typically carry equipment and supplies - sleeping bags or blankets, water, food, toiletries, prescription medications and other items as needed - in preparation for overnighting in their vehicles during emergency road closures. Visitors may wish to take similar precautions.
BigSurKate - Current road, fire and weather conditions in Big Sur, from a local perspective. Timely and accurate, this website is where locals go for information about current events in Big Sur.
California Department of Transportation - Caltrans - provides roadway maintenance on Highway 1. Caltrans maintenance facilities are located at MM 46 and MM 10. Maintenance is performed during daylight hours. Long-term highway improvement projects, including new bridges and viaducts, are typically performed by independent contractors.
California Highway Patrol - CHP - provides law enforcement on Highway 1. CHP may be assisted by Monterey County Sheriff’s Office and California Department of Parks and Recreation Rangers, when needed.
MM = mile marker, roadside markers along Highway 1 in Monterey County that indicate the number of miles north of the border between Monterey and San Luis Obispo counties.