McWay Falls – Beauty To Behold

McWay Falls is an 80-foot-tall waterfall that is situated in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park in Big Sur. In a state known for its many beautiful waterfalls, McWay Falls is a must-see water body along the famous Pacific Coast Highway throughout the year. 

McWay Falls is one of only two tidal waterfalls in California, as it falls directly into the Pacific Ocean. It is an alluring and phenomenal sight to witness and one of the most photographed places in California.

Visit the Official website of McWay Falls.

Getting To McWay Falls in Big Sur

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Getting to McWay Falls is very simple. From Carmel in the north, drive 36.4 miles along California Highway 1 to the Julia State Park entrance. From San Simeon in the south, drive on Highway 1 for 52 miles.

Look for the sign that marks the entrance to McWay Canyon Park. The starting point for the McWay Falls, Overlook Trail, is within the park entrance. You will see a trail sign near the self-registration and parking fee box.

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Quick Facts About McWay Falls In California 

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  • McWay Falls flows throughout the year unlike many other falls, but it flows most strongly in winter and early spring. 
  • The general parking fee and entry fee for Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park are $ 10. The California State Park Golden Bear Pass or other California State Park day receipts are valid at the park. So, once you’ve paid for any Big Sur state park, you can visit the remaining parks the same day without paying extra.
  • McWay Falls is the most gorgeous and enchanting waterfall in California. The silver water on the cliffs, green plants of Big Sur, the turquoise water of the bay, and the blue of the distant ocean is simply astonishing. 
  • Until 1983, McWay Falls once flowed directly into the Pacific Ocean. But after massive landslides, including a major one north of the waterfall, California Highway 1 was damaged and repairs in the area caused a large amount of landslide debris to settle into the ocean.
  • Then the ocean created the beach you see today, dragging some debris into the area directly below McWay Falls and turning it into the sand. Today, the pristine White Bay is an integral part of the McWay Falls at low tide. However, when the high tide comes, McWay Falls starts tumbling into the Pacific Ocean.

Hiking In The Overlook Trails In McWay Falls

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McWay Falls Trail is one of the easiest and safest hiking trails in Big SurMcWay Falls Overlook occupies the terrace of the old waterfall house owned by Lathrop and Hélène Brown.

In 1961, Hélène Brown donated the property to California, specifying that the waterfall house would be turned into a museum or demolished. The museum could not be installed and the house was demolished. 

 The trail to McWay Falls is short (0.5-mile round trip) and most of it is paved. There are a few steps from the parking lot to the trail, but it is otherwise flat. Enjoy the spring wildflowers, butterflies, and birds.

In winter and spring, you can watch migrating gray whales. Especially in December and January, migrating whales approach the coast. Sometimes you can see sea otters and seals in the bay. 

From there, you will walk parallel to McWay Canyon. You can watch and admire McWay Creek in the canyon, falling hard onto the cliffs and sea. 

You will then go through the tunnel under California Highway 1 to the west side of the highway. After exiting the tunnel, continue along the path as it turns right along the cliff and you will soon reach the observation deck where you can enjoy the beautiful McWay Falls and take lots of photos. 

Photographing McWay Falls

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McWay Falls is best photographed in the afternoon, with the sun is shining on the waterfall and the cliff behind. The golden hour and sunset are great because the waterfall is glowing and the cliff also glows. To take the best photo, walk down the path to the observation deck! 

Nearby Places To Visit

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You can visit other amazing places in Big Sur like Pacific Coast Highway, Point Lobos, the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Also, visit Bixby Creek Bridge.

Other popular hiking options near McWay falls in Big Sur such as Skye’s 100° Hot Springs, a 20-mile hike, etc can also be experienced.

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Where To Stay?

Lodging options near McWay Falls in Big Sur are as follows, Camping, Airbnb’s, and hotels.

Visit Big Sur Lodging Information for more details.

Finally, do check the weather before your trip!

Therefore, You will definitely be captivated by the beauty of McWay Falls, do check out the links in the post for booking your trip, and have an amazing experience. Visit the Official website of Julan State National Park here.

Do check out our blog on Laguna Beach.