Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version Share this



By Miriam Raftery

May 23, 2017 (Big Sur) – Millions of tons of rocks and mud have buried Highway 1 in a massive mudslide over the weekend at the aptly-named Mud Creek in Big Sur. According a tweet from Caltrans District 5, the slide covered a third of a mile of roadway, 35 to 40 feet deep. 

Already shut off by a bridge closed along Highway 1 to the north from an earlier mudslide in January, the area is now cut off from the south, too.  The only access is via helicopter.  Caltrans has no estimate on when the roadway could reopen; for now, conditions remain too dangerous for crews to even assess the damage.

Mercifully, no motorists were on the stretch of roadway when the hillside came flowing down, since an earlier small slide had closed the highway, the San Francisco Gate reports.

Aerial video shot by the Monterey Sheriff’s Department shows how the Goliath-scale mudslide transformed the coastline of California.

The exact location on Highway 1 is 8 miles north of Monterey/San Luis Obispo county line, about 10 miles north of Ragged Point or 25 miles north of San Simeon/Hearst Castle.

Closure of Highway 1 from the north has been tough on tourism-related business along this ruggedly beautiful stretch of coastline, once a haven for hippies and always one of California’s most iconic scenic places.  Timing of the new mudslide, just before Memorial Day weekend, will hit merchants hard in the pocketbook.

But some entrepreneurial enterprises are finding opportunities amid disaster.  The San Jose Mercury News reports that all the chaos is “transforming the old counterculture paradise into a place affordably only to well-to-do visitors.”  One resort is offer guests a weekend getaway for two via helicopter at prices ranging from $4,300 to $13,550.

Engineers warn that more slides may yet occur, and it will likely take months—or more—before one of the most beautiful stretches of highway in America will be repaired and reopened.

Error message

Support community news in the public interest! As nonprofit news, we rely on donations from the public to fund our reporting -- not special interests. Please donate to sustain East County Magazine's local reporting and/or wildfire alerts at to help us keep people safe and informed across our region.