While not an official geographical designation, wild and craggy BIG SUR is the de facto regional name for the ninety miles of rocky cliffs and crashing seas along the California coast between Hearst Castle and the Monterey Peninsula; the breathtakingly unspoilt area extends inland for about twenty miles, well into the Santa Lucia Mountains. Running through this striking terrain is exhilarating Hwy-1, carved out of bedrock cliffs hundreds of feet above the frothing ocean and opened in 1937. Resist the temptation to bust through Big Sur in a single day, though; the best way to enjoy its perfect isolation and beauty is slowly. Leave the car behind as often as you can and wander through its numerous parks, where a mere ten-minute walk can completely remove you from any hint of the built environment.

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