After about 30 miles, the golden rolling hills morphed into densely wooded cliffs.
‘Civilization’ was left behind. Road sign featuring the ‘s’ symbols started to appear more often. It was a clear announcement of the sharp curves we were going to encounter for the next 100 miles.
As we gained elevation, sea stacks, down at the crescent-shaped coves, started to look like minuscule points pounded by the wild Pacific Ocean. Patches of fog gave a hazy dream feeling to the entire scenery.
Then, we saw structures and cars and people. Also, I was able to catch a glimpse of a sign I have wanted to encounter for a long time, to be exact 12 years. After more than a decade-long wait, I felt a rush when I saw the “Welcome to Big Sur” sign.
Things to See / Do in Ragged Point, CA
It looks like Ragged Point, CA is the first official stop in Big Sur for those navigating the coast from the south. This particular trip to this famous part of Golden State was put together at the last moment. A beaten map I got years ago at the Morro Bay Visitor’s Center served as my trustworthy guide. The Ragged Point Inn appeared on the map next to a caricature gas sign (there are only three gas stations in the area).
Ragged Point Inn
The Inn is located directly above the Pacific and affords glorious views of the ocean. The Inn itself is beautiful. Time should be taken to walk the grounds at a slow pace.
There are trees shaped by the wind, multicolored flowers and red paths connecting the different areas. The site not only offers lodging but there are other services like food, gas, and supplies are offered too.
Find more information about the Ragged Point Inn in here.
The Million Dollar View
This should not be a surprise, the view from the Ragged Point Inn, one of barren, steep cliffs rushing into the sea is called the “Million Dollar View.”
As we walked the grounds of the Inn, the fog dissipated and we were able to admire the view in its entire splendor.
After a few minutes, I realized something. The road we were about to continue driving somehow ran thru the rim of those cliffs. I got an uneasy sensation in my stomach. It seems like engineers didn’t take into consideration people with a fear of heights when they designed this road (CA-1).
Well, after all, I said to myself, there was a small price to pay in order to continue being blown away by a spectacle that only nature can deliver. Can you spot the road in the next picture?
There is a redwood pagoda (used in weddings and events) from where you can take a good look at the black sands and emerald water located at the feet of the cliffs.
As you can imagine, the view has inspired more than one artist. In the property, there is a sculpture reminiscent of a rounded ship cabin window. The amazing thing is that the sculpture perfectly frames the view.
If you visit, take also a look at the views to the south (the cliffs are to the north). They are great as well!
Black Swift Falls
There is also a trail to the black sand beach at the base of the cliffs (trailhead is located at the edge of the Ragged Point Inn property). The 300-foot Black Swift Falls (some say this are the tallest falls in the area) are visible from the trail. As with other waterfalls, the flow of water is stronger during spring.
Even though this trail is short (0.6 miles), it is considered strenuous. It should only be attempted by people in good physical condition wearing the proper gear (example, sturdy hiking shoes).
Ragged Point Fire Road Trail
If you are up for a little adventure and do not mind a bit of a steep trail, add to your bucket list the Ragged Point Fire Road Trail. The nice thing about this trail is that the surrounding slopes are covered in soft grass. That means tall trees are not going to block the magnificent ocean views!
The trail can be started from the Ragged Point Inn or from a parking lot a bit south of the lodging. This page shows specific details on how to access the trailhead.
Salmon Creek Falls
If you are a fan of waterfalls, an easy trail will take you to 120-foot Salmon Creek Falls. The trailhead to this marvel is located about 4 miles north of Ragged Point. There is a parking lot at the out-of-service Salmon Creek Ranger Station.
Seeing the waterfall will take 5 to 10 minutes. However, the actual trail keeps going for about 6 more miles. There is an elevation gain of more than 1000 feet so, it affords great views of the coast. You can go as far as you want (and turn back at any point).
Attractions North of Ragged Point
- Soda Springs Trail – 5 miles from Ragged Point, this hike provides access to coastal views, small waterfalls, and oak forests
- Other attractions close to Ragged Point cannot be accessed at the moment due to the closure of a small portion of CA-1. These attractions can only be accessed from the north (via Carmel)
Attractions South of Ragged Point
- Piedras Blancas Lighthouse and Elephant Seal Rookery – 12 miles from Ragged Point, historic lighthouse and elephant seal viewing point
- Hearst Castle – 15 miles from Ragged Point, one of California’s marvel, designed by architect Julia Morgan for media mogul Willian Randolph Hearst
- Cambria – 24 miles from Ragged Point, quaint town with beautiful beaches and preserves
- Cayucos – 38 miles from Ragged Point, a classic Californian beach town
- Morro Bay – 44 miles from Ragged Point, famous for its humongous rock (a volcanic plug) and estuary
Recommendations for your visit
- If you are looking into saving money, it will make sense to start the day by having breakfast at one of the towns south of Ragged Point. Good and services are expensive once you cross into Big Sur
- The same goes for gas. Fill up your tank before starting your drive. You do not want to see the gas prices at Big Sur (you can see them but you may have a heart attack)
- It is a good idea to have snacks, water and other essential on your car
- If you want to tackle a hike or two, wear the proper gear
- The road in Big Sur is twisty and through steep cliffs. Be prepared for motion sickness pills and anti-nausea medicine
What can I say? My first stop in Big Sur was conquered. Now, remember that scary looking road? Ahh, I took a deep breath while getting into the car to continue the journey. After witnessing the “Million Dollar View” I was determined to take it easy and enjoy every mile of the breathtaking road between Ragged Point and Carmel.
Have you been to Ragged Point, CA?
If you enjoyed this post, remember to share!
Pin me for later!