The Diverse Landscapes Of Monterey County
Towering rock spires, sweeping coastal views, architectural marvels and undeveloped wildlands contribute to the rich and diverse landscapes of breathtaking Monterey County. Visitors are invited to unplug and take time to discover what makes the destination so unique and picturesque.
Make your Instagram buddies jealous and post dazzling Big Sur coastline views from magnificent Bixby Bridge. Running more than 700 feet long and rising 260 feet high above crashing waves, this architectural masterpiece – completed in 1932 – is one of the tallest single-span concrete bridges in the world.
Head to charming Carmel-by-the-Sea and explore this enchanting storybook town. Once upon a time, a man named Hugh Comstock lived here with his artist wife, and he built her an English fairytale cottage to display her collectible dolls. That whimsical home became the first of 21 fairytale cottages that still offer their touch of magic to this seaside escape.
Toro Park spans 4,756 acres, just six miles from Salinas. This popular stop on the Central Coast Birding Trail is a haven for wildlife including deer, coyotes and mountain lions. Rare golden eagles soar on wind currents overhead while 20 miles of hiking trails lead to sweeping Salinas Valley and Monterey Bay views.
Fort Ord National Monument is cherished for its historical and cultural significance. More than 1.5 million American Army troops trained here between World War I and Operation Desert Storm. Today, this coastal gem provides more than 86 miles of trails where visitors can hike, bike and ride a horse over rolling hills and through unique Central Coast chaparral.
Pinnacles National Park is a geological wonderland teeming with wildlife that includes the endangered California condor. Thirty-two miles of trails carry hikers through talus caves alongside fragrant meadows and on to the jutting volcanic spires for which Pinnacles is known.
From the towering rock spires to the majestic redwoods, travelers can view the tallest measured tree species on earth growing along the Big Sur coastline. Average mature redwood trees hit about 200 to 240 feet high with trunk diameters of 10 to 15 feet. Be sure to look up…way up!
From swimming to surfing to kayaking, Lovers Point Beach and its 4.4-acre park have provided a popular Pacific Grove spot for beachside fun for more than 100 years. Its unique east-facing location makes it one of the only west coast locations where visitors can watch sunrises over the water.
Just north of Monterey State Beach, Fort Ord Dunes State Park holds 170 acres of protected dunes, the highest dunes on the Central Coast. While dolphins play in the waves off shore, steady winds and waves offer a siren call to morning surfers, afternoon hang gliders and kite-flying enthusiasts all day long.
UNDER THE WAVES
In Moss Landing, Elkhorn Slough’s protected waters, salt marsh and mudflats are home to the highest concentration of southern sea otters on the California coast. Witness mama otters drift past with fluffy pups safe on their bellies. And folks are bound to catch always-hungry otters nibbling on clams, oysters, abalone and sea urchins.
At 28 feet high, the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Kelp Forest is one of the world’s tallest aquarium exhibits. Spy rockfish hanging from kelp blades and camouflaging red octopi. Witness sardines, slender leopard sharks and wolf-eels weave among swaying kelp fronds, just as they do in the wild.
From sun-bleached beaches to dense woodlands to exotic marine life, Monterey County offers an intoxicating mix of some of North America’s most remarkable landscapes. For more information on exploring Monterey County, please visit SeeMonterey.com.
Jessica Keener, Monterey County CVB