10 Day Trip from LA to Monterey via Pacific Coast Hwy - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-24-2019, 03:25 PM   #1
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10 Day Trip from LA to Monterey via Pacific Coast Hwy

Hello everyone,

This is probably one of the most common (and highly recommended) trips one can take in California driving on PCH or Hwy 1 up or down the coast. It is also probably one of the most beautiful stretches of the coastline in the world. I did this trip over 20 years ago and couldn't believe I didn't repeat it sooner! I guess in your 20's you are less impressed by natural beauty than in your 40's
At least my 6 yo was hugely impressed by the elephant seals on the beach and by the sea otters so he wants to go back already.

Since there are most definitely dozens of colorful descriptions of this trip out there already, I will just mention a couple of things.
First, if you would like to camp right next to the waves, I mean I could literally cast a line from my camping spot or throw a shoe into the waves, check out a series of little known Ventura County beaches just north of Ventura city, which is roughly 70 miles north of LA. We stayed at Hobson Beach, and sheer proximity to the waves was amazing.

If you like to camp ON the beach, you can do that at Pismo Beach, where people literally drive on the sand in their vehicles and RVs. We did not attempt that as I was slightly concerned about our Toyota Sienna's ability to navigate sand dunes with Casita in the tow. But we saw a bunch of Winnebagos who didn't seem perturbed. I also saw a BMW SUV being pulled out by a Jeep Wrangler, so. I put a mental mark to return there when my son is ATV riding age, as it is apparently an ATV Mecca of CA. For the time being we were very content staying at Pismo Beach Oceano campground. For those not familiar with CA day-night temperature fluctuations, bring a sweater! Nights at Pismo beach are very cool even in the midst of summer.

Finally, our destination camp at Pfeiffer Big Sur was an amazing, text-book perfect campground in the Redwoods grove, complete with a stream running through the camp, deer at our site, very mild temperatures and plenty of shade. You will need to reserve 6 mos ahead, like we did, but it is worth it. Carmel and Monterey less than an hour away but awesome day-trip destinations, and you get to drive over Bixby Bridge every time. Frankly, I could've just stayed at the campground for the whole week, though.

Now we are back to 95 F in LA and Big Sur seems like a dream, which I won't wait for another 20 year to repeat. In fact, we are already discussing camps near Santa Cruz for next summer
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Old 07-24-2019, 06:15 PM   #2
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We did it in two days a few years back on the way to a family gathering. Ten days sounds much better! Sounds like the PCH is once again open all the way through to Carmel and Monterey. I was waiting for repairs to be completed before returning.
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Old 07-24-2019, 06:41 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Alex in LA View Post
If you like to camp ON the beach, you can do that at Pismo Beach, where people literally drive on the sand in their vehicles and RVs.
Great report Alex. It's an amazing stretch of coastline there. I've driven it quite a few times and hope to do so again.

I remember being at Pismo Beach in the late 70's when my brother had just acquired his new-to-him mid-70's Toyota Land Cruiser, with the old 125 HP I-6 "F" engine.

We minced around delicately on the sand in four-wheel drive for quite some time before we finally realized the trick was simply to air down to 10 psi or so.

After that, we confidently went anywhere we wanted, in two-wheel drive. When leaving, we aired up at the station conveniently located at the beach exit.
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Old 07-24-2019, 10:04 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Alex in LA View Post
Hello everyone,

This is probably one of the most common (and highly recommended) trips one can take in California driving on PCH or Hwy 1 up or down the coast. It is also probably one of the most beautiful stretches of the coastline in the world. I did this trip over 20 years ago and couldn't believe I didn't repeat it sooner! I guess in your 20's you are less impressed by natural beauty than in your 40's
At least my 6 yo was hugely impressed by the elephant seals on the beach and by the sea otters so he wants to go back already.

Since there are most definitely dozens of colorful descriptions of this trip out there already, I will just mention a couple of things.
First, if you would like to camp right next to the waves, I mean I could literally cast a line from my camping spot or throw a shoe into the waves, check out a series of little known Ventura County beaches just north of Ventura city, which is roughly 70 miles north of LA. We stayed at Hobson Beach, and sheer proximity to the waves was amazing.

If you like to camp ON the beach, you can do that at Pismo Beach, where people literally drive on the sand in their vehicles and RVs. We did not attempt that as I was slightly concerned about our Toyota Sienna's ability to navigate sand dunes with Casita in the tow. But we saw a bunch of Winnebagos who didn't seem perturbed. I also saw a BMW SUV being pulled out by a Jeep Wrangler, so. I put a mental mark to return there when my son is ATV riding age, as it is apparently an ATV Mecca of CA. For the time being we were very content staying at Pismo Beach Oceano campground. For those not familiar with CA day-night temperature fluctuations, bring a sweater! Nights at Pismo beach are very cool even in the midst of summer.

Finally, our destination camp at Pfeiffer Big Sur was an amazing, text-book perfect campground in the Redwoods grove, complete with a stream running through the camp, deer at our site, very mild temperatures and plenty of shade. You will need to reserve 6 mos ahead, like we did, but it is worth it. Carmel and Monterey less than an hour away but awesome day-trip destinations, and you get to drive over Bixby Bridge every time. Frankly, I could've just stayed at the campground for the whole week, though.

Now we are back to 95 F in LA and Big Sur seems like a dream, which I won't wait for another 20 year to repeat. In fact, we are already discussing camps near Santa Cruz for next summer

If you have your heart set on driving on the dunes near Pismo (aka Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area, ODSVRA) you should pay attention to the current discussions around closing the dunes to vehicular traffic. Not meaning to start a political debate here or anything, just letting you know there are currently discussions by multiple agencies to close the dunes off, and there are groups trying to keep it open.
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Old 07-25-2019, 09:56 AM   #5
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If you liked the S CA coast, you ought to check out the N CA coast, IMHO, it is quite a bit nicer and more accessible.
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Old 07-25-2019, 11:02 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
We did it in two days a few years back on the way to a family gathering. Ten days sounds much better! Sounds like the PCH is once again open all the way through to Carmel and Monterey. I was waiting for repairs to be completed before returning.
Attachment 130594
Yep, HWY 1 is open all the way up to Monterey (didn't venture further). They do have quite a bit of construction going on and sometimes have it open only one way (alternating) which results in delays, but the worst delay we were in was less than 20 min. But several parks have suffered damage and Julia Pfeiffer and Andrew Molera State Parks are only open for day use, no camping.
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Old 07-25-2019, 11:10 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by bobblangley View Post
If you liked the S CA coast, you ought to check out the N CA coast, IMHO, it is quite a bit nicer and more accessible.
Dying to check it out, but having two smaller children preclude a long distance trip like that for now. But watch out in a couple of years! Plan is to cover the whole West Coast quite extensively in the next decade.
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Old 07-25-2019, 11:11 AM   #8
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I hope he kept that truck!!
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