Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > United States
Reload this Page >

California atlas help -- info needed on back road to Julie Pfeiffer Burns SP

California atlas help -- info needed on back road to Julie Pfeiffer Burns SP

Nov 14th, 2003, 08:50 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 11
California atlas help -- info needed on back road to Julie Pfeiffer Burns SP

I actually have a lot to figure out for our 2 1/2 day itinerary, but the first question I have is whether it's possible to get to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park from San Francisco and back without backtracking on Highway 1. We love driving, and have never been there so we want to see as much as possible along the way.

I just got my California road and recreation altas in the mail and am seeing a lot of dotted lines. Is it possible to hi-tail it down on 101 and then take the G17 (Arroyo Seco Rd) from Soledad all the way to the park?

From there we intend to explore, and then gradually make our way back on hwy 1 through Carmel and Monterey, with the only firm item on our list (other than the park and the drive) being the Monterey aquarium.

All comments will be appreciated. Thank you!
Elsapine is offline  
Nov 15th, 2003, 03:45 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 311
Can't help you with the driving, but a tip about the Monterey Aquarium...it gets really busy and crowded, I would suggest getting there when they open to get the best out of it. It's worth the effort, a beautiful place, but hard to see stuff with the crowds. Good luck!
loangalsal is offline  
Nov 15th, 2003, 07:13 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,018
Hi Elsapine,
The short answer is no. The G17 doesn't go near the park -- it travels along the other side of the Salinas river, parallel to the 101.

If you're thinking the G16 it would get you from Greenfield through Carmel Valley to Carmel, with little roads that take you into the park.

HOWEVER, we took the G16 one year in our annual February trip to Monterey from L.A., thinking it would be a nice "short cut" rather than continuing up the 101 to the Monterey peninsula cut-off (the 68) as we usually do. Never again. During that rainy season, it was not an easy trip, with small, small lanes, and took over twice the time it takes by the other route.

If you want to change the scenery, I'd do it at the Monterey sector of the trip. In other words you can head down Hwy 1 from San Francisco to Big Sur, but coming back, you can either take the 68 to Salinas and head up the 101 or continue up the 1 to the 156 back to the 101. All of these routes are fairly easy and offer different (and pretty) views, towns, and sites.

Have fun!
Surfergirl is offline  
Nov 15th, 2003, 08:23 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 17,106
Hello, Elsapine!

The title to your post caught my eye: "back road to JPB" - Wow! WHAT back road, I asked?

There really isn't a back road, as Highway 1 didn't exist before the 1930's. It's another of those miraculous construction projects during the Great Depression. Lots of brave young men did a fantastic job building Highway 1.

Once you've driven on Highway 1 you'll understand what a wonderful piece of engineering it is!

Before that the entire Ventana Wilderness was pretty much inaccessible except by ship - and that was very perilous. At Ano Nuevo beach you'll see a large piece of one of the numerous ships that shipwrecked along this shore.

Except for that miraculous thin strip of road carved from the steep cliffs, the Ventana Wilderness remains pretty much inaccessible. By car. You could hike in and spend a few days/weeks working your way to the coast.

And surfergirl is correct, don't try G16 or G17 unless you have a jeep or a hummer, and even then, be prepared to spend hours bumping and winding your way.

I've hiked bits and pieces all the way from Lake Nacimento to Salinas, it's not even an easy hike. Just MHO.

easytraveler is offline  
Nov 15th, 2003, 07:36 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 11
Thanks, Surfergirl and easytraveler for the info about the roads. I'm very excited for this little jaunt we're taking; we have no time to waste, and I don't want to get stuck! Last time we visited our friend for a week we went north to redwoods. This time we thought a couple of days south would be fun.

I can't not buy guidebooks for places I'm visiting, but now of course after reading them I'm overwhelmed because we only have 2 1/2 days in the area.

We still don't have lodging and we're leaving in a week. We plan to "go with the flow," leaving Santa Rosa on Monday morning to get to the park around noon, and then gradually making our way back along hwy 1 to Santa Rosa, getting there around 8 p.m. on Wednesday.

As I mentioned, the Monterey aquarium is the only "must see" other than the park. Thanks for the tip, loangalsal, about getting to the aquarium early!

After my reading, I'm wondering if JFB state park is necessary.... Should we get a place on the peninsula and visit Point Lobos instead (for our park/nature excursion) and make it easier on ourselves by doing that and Carmel/Monterey in a more relaxed time frame?

Any thoughts you have would be great. Thank you.
Elsapine is offline  
Nov 16th, 2003, 12:22 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,380
Writing as a tourist who did the coastal trip a couple of years ago, I'd suggest saving the JPB trip for later. With your time constrictions, yoou'd not be able to do any of your destinations justice.

Incidentally, I've got some pictures at http://community.webshots.com/user/bookhall . Go to the Big Sur to Monterey album. We knew nothing about JPB until we were tipped to it by a photographer in Morro Bay. McWay Falls was definitely one of the highlights of the trip...
bookhall is offline  
Nov 16th, 2003, 07:22 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,018
If you stay on the Peninsula, here's a little aquarium tip. A number of the hotels (Marriott, Hotel Pacific are 2 I've stayed in and both have this) sell tickets to the aquarium. They're the same price you'd pay at the aquarium, but you get two consecutive days to use it. The BEST part about it is, you don't have to stand in those long lines to get into the aquarium! You by-pass the line, show the guard your ticket, and walk right in, which means you can get there at any time.
Surfergirl is offline  
Nov 16th, 2003, 08:08 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 17,106
Hello, Elsapine!

I'm a bit confused and if my premises are incorrect, please excuse me!

It sounds like you plan to leave Santa Rosa on Monday morning and return to Santa Rosa by Wednesday night. This gives you about 2 and 1/2 to 3 days in total.

First, I would suggest that you return to Santa Rosa via Highway 101. There is no point in driving Highway 1 north of San Francisco along the coast IN THE DARK! Sunset is around 5pm and you were planning to be back in Santa Rosa by 8pm, which means driving along the coast in darkness most of the way.

Thus, I would suggest that you start out by driving SOUTH on Highway 1 from Santa Rosa. I'm assuming that you were planning to cross over to the coast on Highway 12 from Santa Rosa. This way, you could enjoy the coast NORTH of SF on Monday morning.

You will have all of Monday to go along the coast, taking Highway 1 all the way, even through SF.

Once you leave SF, it may take you about an hour to reach Santa Cruz, depending on how many stops you make along the way.

Dinner in Santa Cruz or you could continue on to Monterey/Carmel.

At this time of year, you should have no problems finding a place to stay. It's past peak tourist season. You did not specify what rate you wish to pay. Fodorites could suggest some places if you could tell us your price range.

Tuesday - Monterey Bay Aquarium. Then go south to Point Lobos. If you have the time, you could continue on to Big Sur. But remember that the sun sets at about 5pm and you probably don't want to be on Highway 1 after dark.

Wednesday - morning you could take a trip down to Big Sur, or better to spend it in Carmel. I would tend to agree with bookhall and suggest saving JFB as well as all of Big Sur for another trip. You need more time than just half a day.

Wednesday afternoon - on the way back to Santa Rosa: take Highway 1 from Monterey, cross over on Highway 156 to Highway 101. Stay on Highway 101 all the way to Santa Rosa. This will take about 4 hours. In San Francisco Highway 101 becomes a surface street and you may hit it during peak traffic hour, so give yourself plenty of time in SF. Maybe having dinner in/before SF would not be too bad an idea.

Hope this helps! And have a great time - I hope the weather breaks in your favor!

easytraveler is offline  
Nov 16th, 2003, 02:18 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 11
Easytraveler, you're absolutely correct about our time line. Your suggestions make sense.

Unfortunately I'm afraid I made a mistake using Priceline today. After doing a bunch of research and using Priceline unsuccessfully for another leg of our trip, I got impatient... Anyway the end result is that we'll be staying at the Hilton in Monterey at 70/night for 2 nights.

Please convince me that this isn't the worst fate imaginable! I'd been looking at higher priced lodging trying to decide how worth it it would be pay for a great view and within walking distance to the wharf and aquarium, etc. I finally decided to use priceline to make my decision, but regretted it immediately after it was accepted, realizing that the Hilton goes for less than that, and finding out soon after that I guess it's not within walking distance of anything significant... Is this right?

We'll spend a great deal of time exploring the area outside of our hotel so I'm trying to convince myself that the location isn't that big of a deal. But are there any redeeming qualities to this hotel and location? Maybe a fun bar within walking distance?

By the way, you are all so helpful! Obviously there are several people on this board who know the area well. I wish we had more time, but we have to make the most of it.
Elsapine is offline  
Nov 16th, 2003, 09:39 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 125
With only 2.5 days to get to Julie Pfeiffer Burns Park from SF and back, my suggestion would be to skip the least scenic part of Highway 1 from San Francisco to Santa Cruz. Instead you'd be better off taking the scenic 280 from SF toward San Jose then take Highway 17 south to Highway 1. On the way back you could take Highway 101 to 280 north in San Jose and continue on 280 from there to SF.
Treck is offline  
Nov 16th, 2003, 09:46 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,018
I wouldn't stress over the Hilton. It's a pretty decent place to stay, and the price isn't bad. In fact, as I mentioned before, they do have the aquarium tickets there. The hotel is, if I remember, on the other side of Hwy 1 (as is the Hyatt), about a mile from the Del Monte shopping center; close to the park (a wonderful narrow strip of land and water that goes straight down to the street that runs along the bay. I figure it this way. You'll be close to Hwy 1, so really easy access to Carmel (a 10 min. drive) or Big Sur (a 30 min. drive), a five min. drive to the Wharf, and a few more to Cannery Row and the aquarium. You're going to be in your car anyway getting around town (parking is pretty good, but keep your eye on the meters -- there's also a bunch of parking lots everywhere). For the aquarium, I usually park at the outlet store parking lot and tie in the Aquarium with a little shopping. That's just at the border of Monterey and Pacific Grove.
Surfergirl is offline  
Nov 17th, 2003, 04:54 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 209
You might want to invest in a California gazetteer (sp?). It shows every cow trail in the state. I used one when I lived in NoCal and found places I never knew existed.
og719 is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 05:16 PM.