CA State Parks

California State Parks is responsible for almost one-third of California’s scenic coastline and includes 280 parks, beaches, trails, historic sites, wildlife areas and off-highway vehicles areas. The Marathon begins and ends in a California State Park property and, along the course, you will pass by another four state parks, properties and beaches including:  SP 150 Logo
Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park  Pfeiffer State Park
Located just north of the marathon start, this beautiful park features both wooded areas and open meadows. nbsp; A variety of wildlife abounds, and hikers can enjoy numerous trails.  There are campgrounds with some sites along the Big Sur River as well as the Big Sur Lodge.  Because of its proximity to the marathon start, this is a popular place to stay race weekend.For more information click HERE or call 831.667.2315
Andrew Molera State Park  View From Andrew Molera
Andrew Molera State Park is the staging area for the start of the 21-Miler and is located five miles north of the Big Sur Marathon start.  Camping is available at 24 sites within the park.  This park is still relatively undeveloped and visitors can enjoy hiking miles or trails along ocean bluffs, through meadows and in wooded hilltops.For more information click HERE or call 831.67.2315
Point Sur State Historic Park Pt. Sur Lighthouse
The Point Sur Light Station is located near mile eight of the Big Sur course and is the only complete turn-of-the-century lighthouse open to the public in California.  The lighthouse has been in continuous operation since 1989 and was home to the lighthouse keepers and their families until 1974 when the lighthouse was automated.  Currently the buildings there are undergoing renovation and restoration through the efforts of park staff, volunteers and the non-profit Central Coast Lighthouse Keepers.  Three hour walking tours are available on weekends year-round.  For tour information, call 831.625.4419.
Garrapata State Park  Garrapata State Park
Garrapata State Park has two miles of beach front with coastal hiking.  There is a wealth of coastal vegetation with trails running from the beach to thick redwood groves.  The park also features beautiful coastal headlands at Soberanes Point.For more information, click HERE or call 831.624-4909
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve  Point Lobos State Natural Reserve
Called “the greatest meeting of land and water in the world,” the Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is home to headlands, coves and rolling meadows.  Big Sur’s 9-Miler contains an approximate 3.5-mile out-and-back section in Point Lobos.  Wildlife sightings include seals, sea lions, sea otters and migrating gray whales.  There are numerous hiking trails along the shoreline and many lead to small, hidden coves.  Point lobos offers a great venue for photographers, painters, picnickers, scuba divers, runners, and walkers.For more information click HERE or call 831.624.4909
CA State Parks Mission:
To provide for the health, inspiration and education
of the people of California by helping to preserve the
state’s extraordinary biological diversity, protecting
its most valued natural and cultural resources, and
creating opportunities for high-quality outdoor recreation.

Big Sur Community

The Big Sur Marathon office is located in Carmel, appropriately only 26 miles from the start line of the Big Sur International Marathon.  We receive frequent calls from first time marathoners collecting information about Big Sur. They usually want to know the location of restaurants, hotels, shopping malls and movie theaters there. We do our best to explain that Big Sur isn’t your usual “town”, and you definitely won’t find any shopping malls there. If are driving down Highway 1 and not paying attention,you may miss Big Sur entirely.  And, this is what makes the tiny community so unique…it’s more of a spiritual haven than a town on the map. Highway One in Big Sur
The thinly populated region of Big Sur actually has no specific boundaries, but generally is considered to be the 90 mile coastal stretch between the Carmel River to the north, and San Carpoforo Creek to the south. From the coast, Big Sur extends inland for about 20 miles to the foothills of the Santa Lucia Mountains.Original occupants of the Big Sur wilderness were three Indian tribes, the Ohlone, Esselen and Salinan. When the explorations of Spanish mariners resulted in eventual colonization, the aboriginal population was wiped out, primarily as a result of disease, malnutrition and forced labor. Big Sur Views
Isolation, a lack of roads, and a treacherous coastline kept Big Sur an inaccessible wilderness area until 1937 when coastal Highway 1 connected Big Sur with towns to the north and south. Family ranches and farms gave way to a tourist based economy, and many purchased acreage for second homes. Local residents fiercely fought over development and were successful in banning billboards and other visual distractions on Highway 1 and were able to prohibit construction within view of the highway. Big Sur Coast
Big Sur is probably best known for the writers and artists who settled there in the mid 20th century. These fierce individualists and free spirits included Robinson Jeffers, Henry Miller, Edward Weston, Richard Brautigan, Hunter S. Thompson, Emile Norman and Jack Kerouac. Eventually, even Hollywood took note of this unique area. Many scenes from the 1944 film The Sandpiper, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, were shot there. In 1974, Zandy’s Bride, featuring Gene Hackman and Liv Ullman, was Big Sur based. Big Sur Ridge
Today Big Sur is home to approximately 1000 inhabitants and includes descendants of the original settler families, artists and musicians, and wealthy investors. The tourism based economy offers visitors accommodations ranging from rustic campgrounds to the plush Ventana Inn and Spa. Several restaurants, gas stations and small stores are the extent of urban development and residents pride themselves on their environmental consciousness.The founder of the Big Sur Marathon, Bill Burleigh, maintains a home in Big Sur. [see fire note below] Ventana Inn

On June 21, 2008 a freak lightning storm passed through the Central Coast and a lightning strike in Big Sur sparked the fire that came to be known as the Basin Complex fire.  As of July 22nd the total acreage burned is 138,220 and the fire is only 72% contained, with complete containment predicted for the end of July. Over 1,400 structures have been threatened, with 26 residences and 32 other buildings destroyed.  The cost to date exceeds $67 million. Nearly 2,000 firefighters from all over the country have come to Big Sur to fight this fire.  One of the homes lost belonged to Big Sur Marathon founder Bill Burleigh; several of our Board members live and work in Big Sur, including the manager of the popular River Inn.

While the forest will regrow and homes be rebuilt, the fire’s devastating effect on the environment, wildlife and residents of this tiny, rugged community is already apparent.  Big Sur is a tourism based economy, and a two week closure of Highway 1 has cost them dearly.   Many past participants of our events have called and emailed to see if they can help in any way.  If you would like to donate to the community of Big Sur, please click HERE for more information.  We, and the Big Sur community, thank you for your consideration.

Big Sur FireCalifornia Condor
Highway One Road Collapse
In March 2011 a 40-foot section of Highway One just south of Rocky Creek Bridge collapsed without warning.  Miraculously no one was hurt although the effect on the Big Sur community has been ongoing.  For nearly six weeks traffic was not allowed to proceed north or south of the slide area, forcing Big Sur residents and employees to park either north or south of the slide, walk across the affected area and resume transportation from there.  In mid-April a one lane section finally allowed vehicles to traverse the area, with a traffic light alternating between north and southbound traffic.This slide dealt a serious blow to the Big Sur economy which is dependent on the tourism trade.  It also forced the Big Sur Marathon to make the 2011 marathon an out and back course from the finish in Carmel to a turnaround at Rocky Creek Bridge.  This further hurt the Big Sur community with participants opting to stay in Monterey and Carmel rather than in Big Sur.  Fortunately in 2012 BSIM was able to resume the traditional point-to-point course, which proved successful despite difficult logistical issues.

In October 2012 construction began on a viaduct that will span the affected area.  Due to the nature of the work being done and the large equipment there, the road continues to remain closed from 9:00 PM to 7:00 AM, further inconveniencing Big Sur residents.  Construction is due to be completed in October of 2013.

For more detailed information and to view a map showing the location of Big Sur hotels, inns, restaurants and points of interest, click HERE
Lodging Accomodations
Big Sur River Inn – 800.548.3610 Wi Fi
Fernwood Resort – 831.667.2422 Wi Fi
Post Ranch Inn – 800.527.2200 Wi Fi
Ventana Inn & Spa – 800.628.6500 Wi Fi
Points of Interest & Special Events

Local Links

For more information on California State Parks, visit