|Gee, I bet no one has ever thought to take a picture here before...|
only a few dozen in the world). Taking the longer view, it's not hard to see how a waterfall here could drop into the sea. The Big Sur Coastline is a mountain range that falls directly into the sea. The Santa Lucia Range reaches elevations of more than a mile, and at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, a 4,000 foot high peak is only two miles from the beach as the crow flies (or falls).
|This is a zoom on McWay Creek cove in the picture above. To get a sense of scale, look for the tourists on the left hand margin of the photo halfway up.|
There have been geologic changes here too, and in a sense they are "non-native" as well. The construction of Highway 1 through the Big Sur country was completed in 1937, and the steep topography necessitated making roadcuts into inherently unstable slopes. Mass wasting would be a fact of life here, but a major paved highway would only make the situation worse. The highway has been shut down for months at a time while landslides were mitigated.
I am guilty sometimes of ignoring interpretive signs on the assumption that I supposedly know more than the sign-makers (a poor assumption, actually). The picture below (from a sign at the overlook) shows McWay Falls as it appeared prior to 1983. The cove was full of seawater, not sand! What happened?
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is on the Big Sur Coastline about 37 miles south of Carmel on Highway 1. Walk-in campsites are available, and a major campground can be found 12 miles north at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park (we had a pleasant stay there during our visit this week). The park has several trails to explore beyond the overlook.