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Big Sur Chamber of Commerce optimistic despite landslides and road closures

Greta Mart/KCBX
State Route 1 has been closed at Ragged Point, shown here, since late February.

The Big Sur area has been losing tourism business over the past year due to a series of natural disasters. It started with last summer’s Sobranes Fire, which set records as the the costliest American wildfire in terms of the resources it took to put out. Then heavy winter rains caused road closures due to mudslides and the condemnation of the Pfieffer Canyon Bridge. Then came the massive landslide that wreaked havoc on the area last Saturday. 

Big Sur Chamber of Commerce Director Stan Russell said while the extended closure of State Route 1 is not ideal, the local businesses that rely on tourism remain optimistic.

“I think everyone’s spirits are as good as they can be at this point. The landslide that just happened… it’s the ‘mother of all landslides,’ people are calling it,’ Russell said. “Business is picking up. These kind of events confuse the public because they’re not familiar with how Big Sur is laid out. So when they see this, they think all of Big Sur is cut off. But it isn’t.”

Tourists who drive north towards Big Sur from San Luis Obispo County have been blocked off at Ragged Point since late February. Those headed to Big Sur must drive south via the Monterey Peninsula on Highway 1.