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Hwy 1 Hearst Castle to Carmel- How dangerous is the drive?

Hwy 1 Hearst Castle to Carmel- How dangerous is the drive?

Old Jun 27th, 2005, 02:24 AM
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Hwy 1 Hearst Castle to Carmel- How dangerous is the drive?

I've heard that Highway 1 from San Simeon to Carmel is one of the most beautiful scenic drives. I've also heard that it's pretty difficult to drive and certain stretches can be quite dangerous.

- Where are the most difficult/dangerous spots?
- And if I'm on this road and want to get off, is there a way to get to the 101 without turning around and going back to Cambria?

Lisa99 is offline  
Old Jun 27th, 2005, 04:16 AM
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I think the scariest part is the first half hour or so north of San Simeon. So, you really wouldn't have the need (or probably desire) to "turn around" after making it that far. It's bad, but not as bad as some of the mountain roads I've been on in Greece or Switzerland. I have a fear of heights, and I would do it again. (Whereas there are certain Alpine passes I would never attempt again.) Cal 1 is certainly is magnificent and worth the time! However, I did make it a point to schedule my trip with the coastal drive northward, keeping us mostly on the "inside" lane. Good luck!
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Old Jun 27th, 2005, 05:23 AM
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I drove it last summer in a convertible, and didn't find it difficult. Of course, I was heading north, so was on the inside lane, which helped. There are some pretty twisty spots, but I just took them fairly slowly (it's easier to enjoy the gorgeous scenery when you're not going too fast, anyway). I didn't encounter much traffic, but if I ended up with someone behind me I pulled over at the next pull-over spot to let them pass (there are quite a few of those). I don't like feeling pressured to go faster than I feel is safe. I might have felt more intimidated if we'd encountered fog or heavy rain, but fortunately, we had nice weather. If you're renting a car rather than driving your own, I think it's well worth it to rent a convertible, you can see the spectacular scenery so much better that way.

Don't miss the scenic view stop just north of San Simeon - there were dozens of elephant seals on the beach and in the water there when we stopped, and according to the signs next to the parking lot, you can usually see elephant seals there.

Sara is offline  
Old Jun 27th, 2005, 05:24 AM
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The first time we made the drive on the Coast Highway was from Carmel down to Cambria. This was, of course, heading south. It was a "white knuckle" trip for my wife who was the one hanging out over the edge.

We have now been making the drive a couple times a year since 1984 and it's second nature. My wife no longer is bothered by the curves, sharp turns, etc. It is a drive on which the driver must be aware of what is going on and when there is traffic be alert for those who would suddenly hit the breaks to pull off to the side for a look around.

I would never wish to make the drive north or south in a large camper but in a car it is a drive I would recommend (and do) to anyone I talk with. The driver is going to miss a lot of the beautiful vistas along the way but there are many "pull-off" spots along the way to either stop, get out and relax, shoot some photos or simply to allow other traffic to go on and get out of the way.

I can not speciffically point out any location on that trip that I would consider to be "dangerous" but rather state, as above, attention to the road is most important. We've made the trip in fog and bright sun, convertible and hard top and can not think of a more beautiful drive. Take your time, get out of people's way, enjoy the scenery and have a wonderful drive.

Have a great drive . . . enjoy it, don't wonder what you might have missed.

Ronc is offline  
Old Jun 27th, 2005, 05:38 AM
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How dangerous is the drive? Bodies of victims are piled on the shoulders.

Just kidding. I've survived the drive several times and do not consider it to be "dangerous" (particularly compared to roads outside the USA).

Difficult to drive? No. It's just a normal American road, no safer or more dangerous than countless others found from sea to shining sea. What may be difficult is paying attention to the road while passing the amazing scenery.

Relax & Enjoy!
Gekko is offline  
Old Jun 27th, 2005, 06:50 AM
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I've lived in Carmel for 25 years.
During that time I've driven down the coast (as it is referred to), more times than I can count. It really isn't that dangerous...I've been on worse mountain roads in MD.

It's 0ne of the most beautiful drives I've ever seen. Oh, there are a
couple places that are kinda twisty.
but nothing that is "killer". Would be ashame if you missed it.

Just my 2 cents!
MsMuir is offline  
Old Jun 29th, 2005, 09:13 PM
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I am from Nebraska, I drove from SF to LA down the PCH/1 in one day, I had no problems whatsoever except my rental car needed a faster motor.
Old Jun 29th, 2005, 10:24 PM
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This stretch of highway is just that...a well maintained highway. But the scenery is so gorgeous!

Best drive I ever took was along this road in 1973. I driving my BF's TR-7 with the top down on a clear, sunny day. There were about 6 sports cars that spontaneously formed a caravan and roared along the road! Incredible!

Now a scary road is the one that cuts across from there and ends up at Hunter Liggett Military reservation. Pretty much one lane with no guardrails and totally blind curves.
lcuy is offline  
Old Jun 30th, 2005, 12:53 AM
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Yes to all the previous replies. The highway is a fully modern two lane state highway with wide shoulders and plenty of room in both lanes, it's not a freeway and there is no center divider, and it is very very curvy with many many sharp bends, but if you slow down for these, especially when you don't know how curvy they get as you enter them, you'll be fine. Probably the biggest danger is getting caught in landslide, but these typically happen when the ground is heavy from the winter rains.

The only way to get to the 101 between San Simeon and Carmel is the Nacimiento/Fergusson Road right in the middle of it all, and this road is far far scarier, narrow twisty and steep than is Highway One itself.

I'd suggest taking it from San Simeon (Hearst Castle) where it's still quite flat and level with the ocean, up to Ragged Point. In between it twists around a little estuary, then starts climbing steeply up to RP. Stop at Ragged Point (the burger joint is right next to the highway, but the fries are terrible, there's a motel and a gourmet restaurant on the premises, too, and a gas station). If you aren't thoroughly terrified by then, you should be OK for the rest of the trip, just keep it slow and let it take a long time; you've got nowhere else to go today, right?
sequoia370 is offline  
Old Jun 30th, 2005, 01:15 AM
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Oh, and USE THE TURNOUTS!!! Pull over if someone behind you obviously wants to pass. This goes for any moutain road in California, there are typically "turnouts" which are designed for slower cars to pull over without having to come to a complete stop, and let other vehicles pass by.
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Old Jun 30th, 2005, 04:17 AM
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We drove down from Carmel to San Simeon earlier this year and had no problems with the drive, even though we were visiting from Australia and are used to driving on the left hand side of the road. Just drive at a speed that you are comfortable with and, as other posters have said, use the turnout lanes to let others pass you.

It was a wonderful drive (compares well to the Great Ocean Road drive in Australia), and IMO was the best direction for the scenery. We enjoyed stopping at Nepenthe for a break and taking in the stunning views.
Enjoy your trip.
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Old Jun 30th, 2005, 07:48 AM
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I am a "flatlander" and I did the drive last June by myself. If you are concerned about heights, do the drive from south to north, ending in Carmel - that is what I did. I have friend and family in california and there are only a few spots to get from 1 to 101 ahd from twhat I have been told, they are far worst than 1 because you are crossing mountain ranges.

One excellent piece of advice Ican share would be to give yourself time. I got to San Simeon the day before for Hearst Castle and then left early the next morning. Dirve mid-week for the least amount of traffice. I drove slowly and pulled over to let other traffic pass, but since there was not too much traffic, I didn't have to do this often. I did pull over often to stop and enjoy the views. Just north of San Simeon, you can see the elephant seals - cool! Even driving slowly, I was able to get to Point Lobos by 1pm ( a great park to stop and walk around - scenic views), and then to Big Basin in the afternoon. I got to San Francisco by 7:30 or 8 pm and since it was summer, it was still light out. Long day, but extreamly wonderful!!!
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