With its unforgettable views of the California coastline, Pacific Coast Highway is the longest stretch of untouched coastal scenery you'll find anywhere in the United States. If you are planning a road trip to Big Sur on this legendary route, you are in for a treat; however, you might wonder if there are any road closures nearby.
The Pacific Coast Highway is currently closed between Lucia and Limekiln State Park; a short but significant closure since it affects the popular section through Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. The highway will be closed for repairs until later in 2024.
The road closure at Big Sur can be a challenge for anyone planning a 2024 road trip on the Pacific Coast Highway, so we've put together the key facts that will help you with finalizing your route.
Where is Pacific Coast Highway closed at Big Sur?
The map above shows the section of the Pacific Coast Highway that is subject to closure at the time of writing.
The PCH stretches far beyond the segment shown here (further north to Leggett; and further south to Dana Point) and this zoomed-in view has been chosen for illustrative purposes only. For more details, and for latest traffic and closure information, please consult the Caltrans website.
In January 2023, a big landslide covered the road just outside Lucia, about 50 miles south of Carmel-by-the-Sea. The closure runs between Lucia (at the northern end) and Limekiln State Park (at the southern end).
This is only a short section of about 1 and a half miles, but no local diversion is available, which means you have to make a long detour if you want to see the Big Sur coastline on either side of the closure.
The closure is very well marked if you drive to Lucia to see what you can of the coast. There are large gates, and sometimes a security guard makes it clear where you have to turn back, so there's no danger of driving further than you're supposed to.
When will Pacific Coast Highway near Big Sur reopen?
With so much earth to move and stabilize before work could even begin on the road itself, it hasn't been a simple repair job. The road is being repositioned, and additional drainage and landslide protections have had to be designed.
Authorities appear reluctant to give a precise date while they're still trying to juggle road re-design with unpredictable weather conditions, which is understandable but makes it hard to plan your dream road trip!
Current estimates are given as late spring 2024 – but weather conditions through the winter could delay work, so check nearer the time before finalizing your Pacific Coast Highway itinerary.
With the ‘June Gloom' sea mist making early summer an unpredictable time to see the PCH at its best, it's probably safest not to plan a Big Sur road trip until later in 2024 (and even then, to have a good Plan B).
You can keep track of updates via Caltrans - the Big Sur closure will be listed in the Central California Area - but this site doesn't currently mention how long the highway will be closed between Lucia and Limekiln State Park.
Alternatively, follow @CaltransD5 #hwy1 on Twitter/X to get notifications of updates and news releases, but you'll need to filter out any other traffic alerts and closures affecting the route.
Alternative routes to drive to Big Sur
As we've mentioned, it's not possible to drive the stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway between Monterey and Morro Bay.
You can still experience many of the highlights of this legendary scenic route by taking an out-and-back drive from Monterey to Lucia, but there's no detour directly around the road closure once you pass Lucia.
Instead, you'll need to take an alternative route if you want to continue all the way to Los Angeles.
Your first option is to bypass Pfeiffer Big Sur National Park by driving inland on US-101 between Monterey and Morro Bay. This is the most direct route to continue your PCH road trip.
If you have time, you could also choose a slower but more scenic drive through the region, letting you appreciate some of its rugged mountain scenery.
For this option, turn onto the rural roads between Creekside and Spreckles, then follow River Road as far as Greenfield. After a short stretch on Highway 101, head back onto the local roads through Jolon, Bee Rock and Lake Nacimiento before picking up the Pacific Coast Highway again at Morro Bay.
Can you get to Big Sur without driving yourself?
You can't get to Big Sur by train or long-distance bus. There are local buses from Monterrey, but while the road is closed, these don't run along the stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway that you're probably trying to see.
That means the easiest way to reach Big Sur without driving yourself is to join a tour. Private sightseeing trips and group tours leave from Los Angeles and San Francisco. However, keep in mind that tours will have to avoid this closure as well, meaning more time spent on the road.
Although pricey, some private tours will tailor the route to suit your brief so you can decide which Pacific Coast Highway highlights you want to include while the section through Big Sur remains closed.
If you're a keen cyclist, then you might also want to think about cycling to Big Sur, although the road closure means you'll have to cover double the mileage if you follow the route from Monterey to Lucia and back.
While the road is closed, you won't be able to follow the diversion along US-101 to continue further south. You'll need to follow the route along River Road instead, a quiet route with mountain and vineyard views.
Where else you can visit instead of Big Sur
You can still see many of the highlights of Big Sur despite the road closure; follow the road south from Monterrey and you'll drive past the iconic landmarks of Bixby Creek Bridge and McWay Falls, Point Sur.
However, if you'd rather wait for the road to reopen so you can drive this bucket list route from end to end, here are some great alternatives that major on rugged scenery, stunning cliffs and some more unforgettable ocean views.
- Point Reyes National Seashore – The Pacific Coast Highway doesn't end at Monterey! The stretches north of San Francisco aren't quite as famous as the Big Sur section, but you'll still find stunning views and some gorgeous coastal towns to explore. Point Reyes is a peninsula with impressive rocky ridges and wide sandy beaches where, depending on the time of year, you can hike, look for whales at Lighthouse or Chimney Rock, or even see elephant seal pups on the beaches.
- Sonoma Coast State Park – Another stretch of rugged coastline with beautiful sandy beaches. It's also just off the Pacific Coast Highway to the north of San Francisco.
- Redwood Highway - Carry on beyond the end of the Pacific Coast Highway north of Leggett and you'll find yourself heading towards the Oregon border. On this route, you'll travel past Redwood National and State Parks as well as more increasingly rugged coastal scenery. If you are looking for some inspiration, here is our detailed guide on the San Francisco to Redwood National Park road trip.
- Take a road trip to Yosemite – If you want to tick off a different bucket list site while you're in California, head inland to Yosemite National Park. Our guide on the amazing road trip from Los Angeles to Yosemite National Park is a great starting point.