One of coolest drives you can take is Highway 1. Our favorite stretch is from Carmel by the Sea down to Big Sur. Every mile you want to pull the car over and stand in awe. For miles you can witness the Pacific Ocean splashing against the rocky cliffs, little pockets of cool plants and beaches which you never seem to be able to touch.
About 38 miles south of Carmel by the Sea, you will stumble upon Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. If you are lucky enough, you may see McWay Waterfall in action. I say lucky, because the falls can dry up during parts of the year. It’s an easy hike to the falls and always some flowers and foliage worth checking out.
I admire the integrity of the Coyote Brush (Baccharis pilularis). It tolerates harsh, salty winds and long drought summers. Most of the year it usually looks like it’s on the verge of death. Late fall into the winter, it flushes out a delicate display yellow and fluffy white flowers. There’s a dwarfy Bay Area native called Baccharis pilularis Twin Peaks that I want to bring home.
Megan was the first to spot these guys chilling along the rocky face. Hesperoyucca whipplei (syn. Yucca whipplei) goes by many names including Our Lord’s Candle and Spanish Bayonet. The common names are describing the 3-10 foot flower spike with a densely branched inflorescence (not seen here).
We believe that this NOID is Malacothrix saxatilis. Anybody have thoughts or a better guess?
The California Fuchsia (Epilobium canum) was putting on quite the show along the cliffs. Hummingbirds really dig this plant, and we spotted it many spots along our trek.
The McWay Waterfall is one of those many beaches along Hwy 1 that you can never reach because of steep cliffs. However, there is one beach that you can reach and we always visit. It’s 8 miles north of the McWay Falls (or 30 miles south of Carmel by the Sea)…
It’s called Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur…and it can be a real challenge to find. You need to look for a sharp turn that leads to a one-lane road called Sycamore Rd. At the end, you will find a $5 toll booth and a beach that does not disappoint the senses. Oh bonus, it’s semi dog friendly too. I say semi because I believe it’s on leash only, but many dogs run free after you get to the north end of the beach.
Here’s a new old friend that we see a lot along the coast…Abronia latifolia (Coastal Verbena). It’s a cute little salty succulent. While Max the Border Collie stretches his legs, and Megan takes a bunch of pics….Matti loves too balance rocks.
Yes, it is a little known fact that I love rock stacking.
In Big Sur and still need more plant action? We highly recommend these two of our favorites, Big Sur Spirit Garden and Nepenthe. The Spirit Garden is this funky little watering hole that has a whole lot of charm, while Nepenthe will let you fill your more sophisticated needs. Either way, their plants are worth a stop. Anybody have other Big Sur or Hwy 1 plant stop favs? Would love to hear about them.
– Far Out Flora