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Parts of Hwy 1 in Big Sur are planned to reopen soon, but a major slide is delaying a full reopening

Gilbert’s Slide, just north of Gorda in Monterey County.
Photo Courtesy of Caltrans District 5.

This year’s heavy storms caused landslides in Big Sur, closing most of Highway 1 in the area. Now, parts of the highway are expected to partially reopen in July — but Caltrans says there’s still one major slide delaying a full reopening.

If you’re driving south into Big Sur from Monterey, you can get as far down as the Big Sur Creek Vista Point in Monterey County.

But Kevin Drabinski with Caltrans District 5 said northbound drivers in SLO County can only get as far as Ragged Point.

“At present travelers are able to go about 40 miles from Morro Bay all the way through Cayucos, Cambria, San Simeon, the elephant seal area, all the way up to Ragged Point,” Drabinski said.

Crews are working on repairing the damage from landslides at Dani Creek and Gilbert's slide. These stretches of road north of Ragged point are set to open in mid July.

“By adding fill to the road by adding dirt, we’re bringing up the level of the road,” Drabinski said. “Eventually that will be paved, and we'll be able to reopen the roads then.”

But Drabinski said Caltrans doesn’t know when they’ll be able to fix the highway at a key area called Paul’s Slide.

A rockslide has closed Highway 1 from north of the Ragged Point Inn to Gorda in Monterey County.
Kate Woods Novoa
@bigsurkate Twitter
Rockslides on Highway 1 in Big Sur are a common occurence during major storms.

“The reason we won't be able to travel this summer all the way through from, say, Morro Bay all the way to Monterey is Paul’s Slide, which is about 22 miles north of the county line,” Drabinski said. “During the winter storms in February, the mountain just moved itself right across the road.”

Drabinski said Paul’s Slide was far more destructive than the others, so the process could take up to several months.

“While other slides this winter were on the scale of 30 thousand cubic yards, the amount of dirt that we need to remove from the mountain that’s Paul’s Slide is about 500 thousand cubic yards,” Drabinski said. “So it’s of another scale from our other repairs.”

Drabinski said while Caltrans isn’t sure when the highway will fully reopen, there’s still plenty open for Central Coast visitors and residents to explore in the meantime.

“This year is the year to go and travel- to visit Cambria at San Simeon, Morro Bay, the Ragged Point Inn,” Drabinski said. “You'll be able to go by many highlights and get really a full experience of the Big Sur coast.”

For more information about road closures, you can visit CalTrans District 5’s website and social media accounts.

KCBX Reporter Amanda Wernik graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a BS in Journalism. Amanda is currently a fellow with the USC Center for Health Journalism, completing a data fellowship that will result in a news feature series to air on KCBX in the winter of 2024.
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