Few experiences trump the beauty of cruising the Pacific Coast Highway. Conversely, one of the biggest vacation faux pas is breaking down on this magical road. Soak up all the West Coast has to offer without any speed bumps using these pointers.
What is the PCH?
If this is your first brush with the PCH, then you're in for a treat. Lauded by National Geographic as one of the most scenic routes in America, the drive is composed of both Big Sur Coast Highway and San Luis Obispo North Coast Byway. A standard passage starts on Route 1 in Monterey, passes over the Bixby Bridge (don't forget to take pictures), Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and Morro Bay.
"Mudslides tend to happen during the winter."
How to prep
Unlike some of the roads you may be used to driving on, these particular ones are prone to inclement weather and natural disasters. Preparation is everything when you're gearing up for the PCH. National Geographic pointed out that mudslides tend to happen in the winter.
Here are some pointers to help you on your journey.
- Check the weather prior to booking your trip and frequently throughout it.
- Avoid the drive during the winter and other times of the year when severe weather strikes more frequently.
- Bring a map in case you lose service and can't access you GPS and smartphone apps.
- Pack blankets, a first aid kit, flares, a few gallons of water and nonperishable foods into your emergency kit.
Get your vehicle ready for the long sojourn with these tips.
- Ensure the air conditioner functions properly. California can be a scorcher.
- Have the tires rotated.
- Get an oil change before you leave and during the trip if you drive between 3,000 and 5,000 miles.
The Independent Traveler advises that you pull over and take a break every few hours and to maintain a normal eating and sleeping schedule. When in doubt, make a pit stop to get a snack or stretch your legs. Remaining happy is key to appreciating the beauty of the PCH without any pitfalls.