The endangered condor can be spotted in the wilds of Big Sur. (Courtesy of @ventanawildlifesociety)

Wild Road Trip: Where to Spot the Coolest Creatures Along Highway 1


One of the world's most famous drives is back now that Highway 1 has at last reopened around Big Sur after closure due to the 2017 mudslides that transformed the coast.

If you're in a hurry to get somewhere, you'll want to drive the 101, but for those wishing to stop and smell the roses—or rather, to see the wildlife—there's nothing that compares to this coastal sojourn. Here's where to pull over and sight some of Northern California's most awesome creatures.

Condors in Big Sur

Nearly extinct, the California condor has been reintroduced into Big Sur and the population is doing well. The birds are more difficult to track down on your own than some of the other wildlife on this list—the Ventana Wildlife Society runs two-hour tours ($75/person). If you can't make a tour, pull out near the entrance to Julia Pfieiffer Burns State Park and look up: You may spot the endangered condors in the sky or in the redwoods.

While you're there, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is home to one of Big Sur's most iconic photo ops: McWay Falls. It's a mostly flat, less than half-mile walk to the 80-foot waterfall that rushes into the ocean. If you park along the highway, you can avoid the $10 parking fee.


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