One of the Most Beautiful and Historic Drives in the World
There's a lot you can Miss..This Piece is to Tell You About it
from:Pillar Point RV Park to:San Gregorio 14 miles
from:Pillar Point RV Park to:Bean Hollow State Beach 21 miles
from:Pillar Point RV Park to:Pescadero 21 miles
25 miles to Pigeon Point Lighthouse
from:Pillar Point RV Park to:Ano Nuevo State Beach 32 miles
from: Pillar Point RV Park to: Santa Cruz 52 miles
When you visit pillar point RV park you can easily miss one of the great attractions in the world... It is 50 miles of nearly untouched beaches spread from Half Moon Bay to Santa Cruz... A great idea is to take the day, perhaps pack a picnic and take a leisurely drive down.... Depending on the time of year state parks may charge you a fee for access.. There are some beaches that allow dogs on leashes but for the most part the park system is protecting the snowy plover. Also, if you are going all the way from Half Moon Bay to Santa Cruz, make sure you are gassed up..there is only one gas station on highway 1 from Half Moon Bay to Davenport..and also be prepared that you will run into dead spots for your cell phone access.....
- you will first encounter beautiful San Gregorio beach... Historical because here is where the Explorer Portola camped with his expedition in 1769... There are restrooms and picnic tables and plenty of parking... San Gregorio creek empties into the ocean a good part of the year ... The estuary is home to many birds and animals. Dogs are not allowed at San Gregorio.
Just 2 miles south is Pomponio State Beach... Big parking lot, picnic tables, barbecues and a beautiful lagoon that is generally safe to swim in... no Dogs on the beach as well.
Next is Pescadero State Beach.... with a mile long shoreline which includes some tide pools, fishing spots and picnic tables... Pescadero Creek empties into the ocean but also forms the Pescadero Marsh natural preserve... Again dogs are not permitted on the beach here.
18 miles south of Half Moon Bay is the incredible Bean Hollow State Beach... Dogs are allowed on this beach but they have to be on leash... On one side of the sizable parking lot is a beach, famous for its beautiful agots... The other side has some of the best tide pools you'll find on the ocean... There are picnic tables and bathrooms and you can conduct a self-guided tour along the trail to the southern part the beach...Dogs are allowed on leash on this beach .. Not a good place to swim however because of the cold water riptides, heavy surf and sharks. We will have more about Bean Hollow later in this documentary
The tallest lighthouse on the west coast is just 22 miles south of Half Moon Bay... The Pigeon Point Lighthouse is also a hostel... You can tour the grounds and view the lighthouse although it is in disrepair and you cannot go inside it... While dogs are not allowed on the lighthouse grounds, the beach in front is one of the few places where you can let your dog run free according to the locals...We will have more about pigeon Point Lighthouse later in this documentary.
Gazos Creek enters in to the ocean at Gazos State Beach...right across from the Gazos Grill...from the parking lot the path winds through agriculture land and is known for the many different kinds of sparrows...Gazos State beach is a birders paradise with a small covey of snowy plover and many other shore and sea birds as well...The Gazos Grill is right across the highway which we will talk more about later...Next is Franklin Point, named after the clipper ship the Sir John Franklin..a ship that crashed here in heavy fog in 1865. Kayakers like to do what they call "rock gardening" here on the point....
Don't forget about Pie Ranch, just off highway 1. It's called Pie Ranch because the property is in the shape of a pie...but they also have real pie and other produce there...a story about Pie Ranch later on in this documentary.Next, still just 26 miles from Half Moon Bay is Ano Nuevo State Park...Ano Nuevo was named when the explorer Sebastian Vizcaino passed by on New Years day and a priest on board named it Ano Nuevo...New Year.Año Nuevo State Park is the site of the largest mainland breeding colony in the world for the northern elephant sea. During the breeding season..December through March access to the park is only granted by booking a tour...at other times you can come here and generally view the elephant seals and other wildlife. There is a visitor center, restrooms and picnic tables...Dogs are not allowed even left in vehicles in the parking lot.
Further south, you will arrive at the huge parking lot at Waddell Beach. Waddell is world wide famous for its kite surfing and surfing. Waddell creek empties into the beach here. Just across Highway 1 is Rancho del Oso, a natural reserve with hiking, biking and horse back riding nature trails. The Rancho del Oso nature and history center is open during the weekend in the summer and hosts many activities. In 1769, the Spanish explorer Portola expedition camped here for an extended period of time...Many of the group had been ill, but by the end of their stay, all had miraculously recovered. They named the valley "Canada de la Salud," (Canyon of Health), The entire area is part of the Big Basin State Park..Bathrooms are provided at the beach..dogs are not allowed.Next is Greyhound rock and Greyhound County Park...A small parking lot with a couple of picnic tables...and a steep walk down to the beach. But, this is considered one of the more beautiful places along the coast. Named after the huge gray rock that juts out into the ocean....you can walk out and picnic or fish on the rock, but only do so in low tide...you want to make it back to the shore before high tide.
The Mecca for surfers and windsurfers is Scotts Creek beach 37 miles south of Half Moon Bay. The wind is usually very strong here and while it's not the optimum for picnicing, it's a great place to at least sit and watch beautiful water sports..Scott Creek does empty into the ocean here.Next...You will not want to miss stopping at Swanton Berry Farm..free jam tasting and a lot more...we'll tell you more about Swanton later in this piece...
Then you will arrive at the town of Davenport..population about 350....Named after John Pope Davenport who came here in 1867 and built a 400 foot wharf at the mouth of the Agua Puerca Creek..also known as Muddy Water Creek. The wharf was used to load lumber from the hills to be sent by ship to Santa Cruz. Historical is the cement plant, built in 1905 and just closed in 2010, the town jail and the beautiful St. Vincent DePaul Church, both built in 1914. There are three nice restaurants and art galleries and it is worth your time to stop and look around. Also Davenport is the home to the American Abalone farm..you can buy fresh abalone here on Saturdays.Right before you get into Santa Cruz you'll come upon Wilder Ranch State Park...some of the Ranch houses are still here...it's a great place to walk or bike with a path down to the ocean...Wilder Ranch does not allow dogs.
And, finally, it's worth going just a little farther into the outskirts of Santa Cruz to see the beautiful rock formations at Natural Bridges state park. There is a large parking lot with a picnic area in a eucalyptus and pine trees grove. Tables, barbecues, water and restroom facilities are available. Moore Creek flows through the park and if you come between October and January you will see monarch butterflys at the Monarch Preserve.
From here, you are just 48 miles back to Half Moon Bay.