Regional Guide

Overview - Monterey and the Central Coast
California Coast

California's central coast is nothing short of a lesson in the seductive powers of natural terrain. Covering hundreds of miles of shoreline, the area serves up some of the most famous coastline (think Big Sur and Highway One)and backcountry this side of the Rockies.

One of the area's most defining features is the spotted Los Padres National Forest, which stretches, in splotches, from the Carmel Valley south to the western edge of Los Angeles County. The Forest's nearly two million acres and more than 1,500 miles of trails are enough to keep even the most determined backpacker busy for several months. Among the Forest's treasures: the famed Ventana and Silver Peak Wilderness Areas with everything from coastal redwoods to desert-like chaparral.

Though the area's vast swaths of preserved land make for an irresistible getaway, the star of Monterey is its rocky coast. From steep rocky seaside ledges and Highway One, which runs to its soft stretches of white sand, this strip of the Pacific coastline offers opportunities for marine exploration, scenic driving and biking, deep sea fishing, and wildlife viewing. And set against this rugged landscape, you'll find some of California's most famous hamlets. In the north, there are the famed seaside enclaves of Monterey and Carmel; just to the east, Salinas, known to most as Steinbeck country; and in the south, lesser-known Morro Bay and Pismo Beach, two former fishing villages that lie on the quiet strip of land just north of Santa Barbara. Whatever your flavor of outdoor fun, Monterey and central California offer a plentiful helping of classic California adventures.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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