For those of you who are not familiar with the area, the 17-Mile Drive runs along the Pacific Ocean and through the Del Monte Forest between Pacific Grove and Carmel-by-the-Sea. There are a number of entrances, including the one in Pacific Grove where we began. Admission is $10 and the fee goes toward conservation of the area. You can actually drive the entire loop and land back in Pacific Grove. We were on the way to Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley from Monterey, so we jumped off at the Carmel gate.
The weather was not cooperative. Cloudy, moody and sometimes windy, it may not have been the ideal atmosphere for someone to experience those views for the first time. I have to say, though, they were still breathtaking, and I’m so glad that I finally made time to see it.
We started at Spanish Bay. It’s a picnic spot and the literature told us that it was a camp location for Spanish explorers in the mid-1700s.
From Spanish Bay, we headed over to Point Joe. Legend has it that this point was often one of great dangers for sailors, as they believed that this was the entrance to Monterey Bay. The rocky point was not welcoming.
As you can probably tell, we took our time. In each vista point, we spent at least a few moments trying to take in the surroundings. Wildlife, flowers and crashing waves all competed for our attention.
Speaking of oceanside colors…
From there we meandered along the drive to China Rock and Bird Rock — each seemingly more beautiful than the next.
Back in the car, we passed Seal Rock and Spyglass Hill Golf Course before heading into the trees.
Zig zagging through the tress that surround the Cypress Club, we passed the Cypress Point Lookout. It’s closed from April 1 to June 1. We were initially disappointed to miss it, but the driving through the cypress toward the now famous “Lone Cypress” was too incredible to complain about what we might have missed.
For some reason I always pictured the Lone Cypress as being down on the shoreline. I’m not really sure why that was. But I can tell you that it has been on its overlook for more than 250 years. That’s perseverance! Let’s hope that it stands for at least another 250.
Regretfully, we had to move along on the 17-Mile Drive, but before we did, I caught this snap between the trees.
From the lushness of the woods to the starkness of the ghost tree, we couldn’t help but marvel at each point.
Gnarled and bleached, these trees have a story to tell. Can you imagine all they have seen while standing sentinel on the cliffside?
And, of course, we had to stop at the famed Pebble Beach Golf Links before heading into Carmel. Andy is slowly making me into a golf fan, and I’ll admit it was fun to wander through the such a famous spot. No, we didn’t actually start putting while we were there, but we did watch a group tee off.
Is the 17-Mile Drive worth the $10? Absolutely. Am I happy that I finally took the tour? Definitely. I can’t believe it took me so long to do it, but I can highly recommend it — even when the weather is less than cooperative. Take the chance and head out to catch a glimpse of some of the most spectacular points along the Central Coast.
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