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Highway 1 - San Luis Obispo North Coast

Highway 1 - San Luis Obispo North Coast
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Quick Facts
Average Time: 2 Hours
Length, One-way: 57 Miles (95.0 Kilometers)

General Information

Description - Highway 1 in north San Luis Obispo County winds past and through some of the finest views in the western United States, as the legendary highway traverses a remarkable variety of terrain. The highway blends the rural beauty associated with much of Highway 1 in the northern portion of the state with the convenience and amenities found in the more heavily populated southern sections of California.

Whether it's a first-time trip by a traveler or a repeat trip by an adventuring local, this stretch of Highway 1 is sure to enrich the spirit and engage the imagination; it's no wonder the National Geographic Society recognizes this part of California as the "Middle Kingdom." Navigation through the Middle Kingdom along its coastal byway will surely reconnect the soul to natural and historic treasures that lurk within sight and close proximity of the roadway.

Attractions - The byway corridor offers incredible opportunities for hiking and bicycling. Highway 1 is a popular route for dedicated cyclists who ride long distances on the Central Coast. Many even ride the entire stretch between San Luis Obispo and Monterey.

There are currently pedestrian and cyclist trails along portions of the byway. These trails allow the walker to stroll leisurely along and the visitor to enjoy the great scenery and sunset views the byway offers.

Bike lanes exist from the City of San Luis Obispo to Hearst Castle. It should be noted that, in many areas of the highway, bike lanes and shoulders are absent. This primarily becomes a problem in the northern area of the corridor, as the highway enters the very narrow and circuitous journey along the cliffs of the Santa Lucia Range. While the sight distance improves as the highway travels south between Arroyo de la Cruz and Hearst Castle, the section still lacks the shoulders present south of Hearst Castle.

There are numerous cities, sights and attractions in the region of Highway 1 - San Luis Obispo North Coast.

Harmony - a tiny community located in the rolling hills of Harmony Valley. It is a cultural landmark that resembles much of the area in the late 1800's and the dairy culture that was prevalent at the time.

Morro Bay - allows visitors to enjoy the City's Embarcadero along the water's edge of Morro Bay Harbor. The area's shops, restaurants, and views allow visitors to experience the City's past and present with its thriving fishing culture.

San Luis Obispo - marks the south end of the byway. San Luis Obispo offers two points of interest for byway travelers. The San Luis Obispo Mission and the City's adjoining downtown, and the Historic Railroad District.

Points of Interest:
Elfin Forest - The 90-acre elfin forest represents a complex and rich assortment of natural communities. These include coastal brackish marsh, riparian woodland fringe, pygmy oak woodland, grassland, coastal due scrub, and oak manzanita association.

Estero Properties - The Estero Terrace is a coastal terrace that stretches nearly four miles from Cayucos to Villa Creek.

Hearst Castle - In the Santa Lucia Coastal Range overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Hearst Castle is a magnificent estate of 165 rooms and 127 acres of gardens, terraces, pools and walkways. The castle was once the home of newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst.

Mission de San Luis Obispo - One of California's oldest communities, San Luis Obispo has its beginnings in the founding of the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa in 1772. Today Mission de San Luis Obispo serves as the cultural and literal center of the City.

Montana de Oro State Park - is a wave swept, seven-mile long shoreline. It is made up of sandy beaches which split to the north, and rugged cliffs and headlands to the south.

Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary - (MBNMS) a Federally protected marine area offshore of California's central coast.

Morro Bay National Estuary - features lagoon and natural bay habitat. The bay's most prominent landmark is Morro Rock. The bay provides fantastic views and recreational opportunities, and historically served as the basis for the community's fishing based economy.

Morro Bay Natural History Museum - not just a museum, but also a hike up a volcanic plug, a trek to a bird rookery, a scientific exploration of the mudflats, up-close demonstrations in the Learning Center, and a session of hands-on activities.

Morro Bay State Park - home of the Museum of Natural History as well as hiking trails, a salt marsh with many species of migratory birds, and more.

Morro Rock - a natural preserve that is home to a pair of peregrine falcons who can often be seen flying about their eyrie. Surf fishing, surfing and beachcombing are popular pastimes here at the base of famous Morro Rock.

Morro Strand State Beach - includes several miles of gently sloping beach ideal for strolling or surf fishing.

Piedras Blancas Lighthouse - built in 1874 and first operated in 1875. It remains today as a captivating image of its time.

Ragged Point Vista - A popular destination for large tour bus groups to stop and stretch their legs, have lunch, and take in the experience of the California Big Sur Coast.

San Luis Obispo Historic Railroad District - The Southern Pacific Railroad route across San Luis Obispo was established in May 1894 and changed the face of the city. The railroad route also introduced the industrial age to the city.

The Mail Pouch Barn - one of a number of historic barns in the San Luis Obispo area. There were once approximately 10,000 of these barns across the Midwest, and a small number in the west.

The Morros - a unique set of peaks between the city of Morro Bay and the city of San Luis Obispo. The peaks are the middle seven of a chain of nine.

William R. Hearst Memorial State Beach - This protected cove also offers visitor pier fishing and deep-sea fishing from chartered boats.

Recreation - There are many cities, sights and attractions along the San Luis Obispo North Coast.

Climate - During spring and fall the sun shines 80 percent of the time. Summer fogs can be thick and cool, while fall brings "Indian summer" and temperatures in the high 80s. Most of the precipitation comes in the winter in the form of rain, turning the golden hillsides green. Temporary seasonal closures are typically expected each year north of San Luis Obispo County. These closures occur most often along the rugged Big Sur Coast during heavy rainfall months.

Location - The San Luis Obispo North Coast Scenic Byway stretches 57 miles over California Highway Route 1, from the city of San Luis Obispo, north of Pismo Beach, to the byway's northern point at the Monterey County line. The County line marks the end of the San Luis Obispo byway and the beginning of the Big Sur Coastal Highway.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
Add your own trip Report! Newly re-released feature. One of the most popular features on Wildernet, trip reports allow you to share your experiences with others. This is an invaluable resource for determining what to expect on your outdoor adventure, so please participate! To prevent spamming, you must be a registered user of Wildernet in order to submit a trip report

Filed By: Ray E (Claremont, CA)
Number of People Encountered: 25-50 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Enjoyed our trip(s) to this area immensely. The people seem friendly, the beaches(although I don't like vehicles on our beaches) and the sand dunes.

Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Automobile Travel San Luis Obispo North Coast
ICON Viewing Scenery San Luis Obispo North Coast

More Information

Additional Information:
California Scenic Byways - California offers one All American Road, two National Scenic Byways, and well over 50 state and National Forest designated scenic byways.


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