Welcome to Big Sur’s version of the Golden Gate—a must-see road trip spot for many and probably the most Instagrammed feature along the Highway One coastline. And rightly so. Pull over only at legal turnouts to get amazing views, particularly from the bridge’s south end at sunset.
Completed in 1932 for just over $200,000, the concrete span, one of the highest bridges of its kind in the world, soars 260 feet above the bottom of a steep canyon carved by Bixby Creek. One look at the canyon’s steep and crumbling cliffs, and it’s obvious that building the bridge wasn’t exactly a cakewalk. First, a massive wooden framework had to be built, with materials brought by truck on what was then a narrow, one-way road riddled with hairpin turns. A staggering 45,000 individual sacks of cement had to be hauled up the framework—and this is before advanced heavy machinery could help do the lifting. Each bag was transported via a system of platforms and slings suspended by cables 300 feet above the creek. Curiously, the span was completed before the road, and it would be five more years before the route linking Carmel (about 15 miles to the north) to San Luis Obispo would even be opened.
Today (as always) the bridge is a favorite attraction for photographers, from professionals to those in search of the ultimate depth-of-field selfie. Use proper pullouts for photo ops and respect private property. If the turnouts north of the bridge are full, then drive a couple minutes more to the turnouts on the southern side. But whether you are snapping away or not, be sure to take advantage of the multiple viewpoints; they are key for reveling in 360-degree views instead of just the direction you are going.