Big Sur Region

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Big Sur is a rugged, mountainous region without official borders, but is identified to being along the Central Coast of California bounded to the north by Carmel and to the south by Ragged Point, just past the southern, coastal border of San Simeon. Big Sur is a region known for its scenic views, campgrounds, hiking trails, and beaches. Highway 1 runs along the entirety of Big Sur, beginning roughly at the city of Carmel by the sea down to San Luis Obispo.



The Big Sur region experiences a Mediterranean climate characterized by dry summers and mild wet winters. From 1915 - 2016 the average annual temperature was 68.6 F and the average rainfall was 40.79 inches[1] . Big Sur receives significantly more rain than other parts of Monterey County due to the influence of the coastally positioned Santa Lucia Mountains. The high ridges cause damp, and foggy mornings. These brisk mornings are followed by warm afternoons. Many believe the best weather to be during spring and fall, avoiding the colder temperatures of winter, and the scorching heat of summer.


Big Sur is part of the historical range of the California Condor , a critically endangered species.


Big Sur historically was occupied by the Rumsen, Esselen, Salinan, and Chalon Tribal groups.

Later, Big Sur was called “El Sur Grande” in Spanish, translating to the Big South. Originally two Mexican land grants, it wasn’t till later that hardy settlers began staking their claim. Many landmarks of the Big Sur region today share their names, in honor of those settlers.

Big Sur became home to redwood lumber industries and steamers harbored at Notley’s Landing, Partington Cove, and the mouth of Litte Sur River. [2]

The Point Sur Lighthouse was built in 1889 to help guide the ships along the rocky coast.

The section of Highway 1 that runs along the scenic drive of Big Sur wasn’t built until 1937, after 18 years of construction. Electricity followed in the 1950s, providing light and power to the residents of Big Sur.


Big Sur is a region known for its scenic views, campgrounds, hiking trails, and beaches. Big Sur's coastline is largely undisturbed and protected from development. Big Sur continues to be a major tourist location for individuals around the world.


National Heritage Area 
The Big Sur region is central to the proposed Range of the Condor National Heritage Area.



Historic Wildfires





State Parks and Reserves




  1. Big Sur Station - Western Regional Climate Center, Desert Research Institue


This page may contain students' work completed as part of assigned coursework. It may not be accurate. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion or policy of CSUMB, its staff, or students.