The California Bucket List is your daily guide to essential California adventures, from easy to edgy. Check in every day for a new must-do adventure, each tried and tested by one of the Travel section's staffers and contributors. Why: These are some of the most epic miles of California's coast, and this cliff-clinging bohemian throwback restaurant has been a part of it since 1949. What: Sometime in the second half of 2018, when all damage from the storms of early 2017 is mended, we'll again be able to drive all the way from San Simeon to Carmel on Highway 1. Until then, we can still take the 101, exit at Jolon Road (north of Paso Robles) and continue via Nacimiento-Fergusson Road to reach a 35-mile stretch of the coast highway that includes Nepenthe at its spot 800 feet above the Pacific. Also found in the same stretch: the Henry Miller Library, the Lucia Lodge, Treebones Resort and the western portion of Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park (which includes much-photographed McWay Falls).
Highway 1 is still struggling with temporary closures in the aftermath of winter rains that battered the iconic coastal road. While areas north of Big Sur have reopened to travelers, a full closure due to landslides near the town of Lucia won't be fixed for at least four to six weeks, according to Caltrans. The closure at what's called Paul's Slide requires excavation above the road to fix major damage. A second closure at Mud Creek near the town of Gorda remains closed too. "The roadway continues to deteriorate as slide activity continues daily," a Caltrans statement on Monday said.
Travelers still hoping to drive on scenic but sidelined Highway 1 from L.A. to San Francisco will have to wait. Fixing the biggest debris slide in the state's history, which closed the road to all traffic for almost four months, will take at least until late summer of 2018 and cost $40 million, Caltrans said in a statement Monday. Mud Creek slide, south of Big Sur near Salmon Creek, rained 5 million cubic yards of rocks and debris on a third of a mile of Highway 1 on May 20. Now Caltrans is working to realign the roadway in a project that will take almost a year. "The new highway will run over the landslide -- in an area no longer moving -- and be protected with embankments, berms, rocks, culverts, netting and other material ...," Joseph Serna wrote in an L.A. Times story on Aug. 2. It's one of several places where the road was damaged and remains closed after heavy storms last winter.
Geologists and engineers crowded a conference room in San Luis Obispo on Wednesday to address the latest assault upon California's most revered roadway. Yet another stretch of Highway 1, that improbable serpentine hemming the continent's western edge, had abruptly disappeared. No one in the room was shocked or surprised. The scientists and builders knew what they were up against. A week earlier, sensors in the mountains had picked up increased ground movement at a site 10 miles north of Ragged Point.