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With the Santa Lucia Mountains jutting from the ocean, Big Sur commands a striking presence for visitors in search of breathtaking surroundings.With cool temperatures and steep terrain, much of the coastline can’t be accessed.Places like Andrew Molera State Park, reachable via a mile-long path, are the exception.Visitors may also choose to uncover a majestic waterfall at Julie Pfeiffer Burns State Park, including panoramic ocean views.Most of the 4 to 5 million tourists who currently visit Big Sur each year never leave Highway 1, because the adjacent Santa Lucia Range is one of the largest roadless areas near a coast in the entire United States.Due to its beauty, the road during summer vacation periods and on holiday weekends is often crowded and traffic is slow.
The sides are occasionally so steep that the shoulders are virtually non-existent.The Spanish referred to the vast, relatively unexplored, coastal region to the south of Monterey as el país grande del sur, meaning "the big country of the south". The first American use of the name "Sur" was by the U. Coast Survey in 1851, which renamed a point of land that looked like an island and was shaped like a trumpet, formerly known as "Morro de la Trompa" and "Punta que Parece Isla" during Spanish times, to Point Sur.The English-speaking homesteaders petitioned the United States Post Office in Washington D. to change the name of their post office from Arbolado to Big Sur, and the rubber stamp using that name was returned on March 6, 1915, cementing the name in place.While the Portolá expedition was exploring Alta California, they arrived at San Carpóforo Canyon near present-day San Simeon on September 13, 1769.Unable to penetrate the difficult terrain along the coast, they detoured inland through the San Antonio and Salinas Valleys before arriving at Monterey Bay, where they founded Monterey and named it their capital.