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DPChallenge Forums >> Out and About >> California Highway 1 (PCH) vistas for great photos
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09/21/2006 11:23:33 AM · #1
My wife and I are heading west for the week. San Fran/Wine Country. 4 days in wine country, 2 in San Fran. Also, Bodega Bay.

On Sunday we're going to take a couple of hours driving from Santa Cruzto Petaluma along the coast.

1. can people help with some interesting spots on the PCH.
2. would love to browse through galleries if people have photos of wine country and pics from Bodega Bay.

Thanks,
Josh

09/21/2006 11:38:04 AM · #2
On your way to Bodega Bay, just before Bodega Bay, take a right off the highway and go about a mile to the "town" of Bodega, just inland in some small hills. There's a cool small, old church on the right that I photographed to great advantage many years ago. Unfortunately I don't have the image here. There's also a great little graveyard on the left just shy of the church, under a stand of eucalyptus trees if I recall correctly.

I used to spend a couple weeks with a poet friend in Bodega every summer, back in the early 70's.

Great power plant, estuary shots, fishing boats galore in Moss Landing, between SC and SF. Fine small waterfront shack restaurant on the North side of Moss Landing for breakfast, in the back of a large paring lot by the commercial boats. Also just North of Moss Landing, on the right, set back from the road, is an old house that (used to? been a while) sell "miniatures" for doll house craftspeople; the owners made a lot of the stuff themselves. Fascinating if you or the wife are into that.

Pt. Reyes National Seashore north of SF is worth checking out, but time-consuming, which I doubt will work for you; "a couple hours" is nowhere NEAR long enough for Santa Cruz - Petaluma via PCH/Highway 1. If I recall correctly, you'd be hard pressed to do it in 2 hours on Highway 17 and the freeway.

Exit Highway immediately after Golden Gate Bridge and swing left under the bridge approaches to enter the military reservation on Matin Headlands and climb the hill for a spectacular, Iconic view of the GG Bridge and some terrific old, concrete gun emplacements.

Mount Tamalpais gives some stunning views from high in the Marin hills, again if you have the time.

You'll be skirting Tomales Bay, very nice stretch, huge, very shallow bay that can sometimes be very beautiful.

Really, do yourselves a favor and allow most of a day for this drive.

Robt.
09/21/2006 11:50:29 AM · #3
Make sure and research road conditions near Pacifica(just south of SF). I recall that a major rockslide closed part of hwy 1 in that area forcing a detour at Half Moon Bay into South SF on Hwy 92. If you are forced to detour, no big deal, just loop back to the coast once you get into the SF area. It will add some time to the drive though(1.5 hrs???)

Definitely try to budget a day for the drive, as Robert says, driving fast on major hwys(with little traffic :)) it would take close to 3 hrs to drive from SC to Petaluma.

There is a very nice area of old growth redwoods called Muir Woods just north of SF which would be worth stopping for.

Mark
09/21/2006 12:00:52 PM · #4
1. Find a beach.
2. Look for bikinis.
3. Take pictures.
09/21/2006 12:03:33 PM · #5
Originally posted by micknewton:

1. Find a beach.
2. Look for bikinis.
3. Take pictures.


BIKINIS? IN Northern California, the last weekend of September? They can only dream... Plus, of course, the wife's with him. Get real, mick :-)

R.
09/21/2006 12:07:11 PM · #6
10-15 minutes north of here [santa cruz] is Davenport, great cliff/ocean shooting. Careful of the cliffs. People die all along the coast just trying to peek over the edge. They are dirt, not rock, so don't.
davenport

Great crazy rock formations at Pebble Cove/Beach further north--this is not the golf course Pebble, but a tiny state park beach with a beach that is all smooth rock pebbles instead of sand. Makes you feel like several thousand people have dumped their aquariums out in the same place.

Pigeon Point Lighthouse is great at the right time of day.

In Pacifica at Rockaway beach there is a Taco Bell with a walk-up beach window.

In the Santa Cruz area proper you could wander for days. Capitola is a cute little spot--oldest condos in California--but parking can be a pain. capitola

My favorite spot to go is easy to find, Lighthouse Point on West Cliff Drive. Any spot between the lighthouse and natural bridges state park is great.

easy shooting for surf stuff:
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Regarding the Devils Slide closure up around Half Moon Bay--it just opened back up again about a month ago, but it is a good example of why you should check road conditions as suggested, and drive safe.
09/21/2006 12:09:31 PM · #7
Originally posted by mpeters:

Make sure and research road conditions near Pacifica(just south of SF). I recall that a major rockslide closed part of hwy 1 in that area ...

The blockage at devil's Slide is open again, There are lighthouses at Montara and Pigeon Point (near Half Moon Bay) which are nice -- they have youth hostels there now.

If you're driving both ways for scenery you may want to consider taking State Route 35 in one of the directions -- it runs along the ridge which divides the Bay from the Pacific Ocean, past the Crystal Spings resevoirs, from Santa Cruz to San Francisco. Access from SC via Highway 9, from SF via I-280, or from Half Moon Bay via Highway 92.

If you take highway 92, you may be able get off on Cañada Road and see the Pulgas Water Temple, where San Francisco's water supplu from Hetch Hetchy in the Sierras flows into the reservoirs.
09/21/2006 12:25:43 PM · #8
Santa Cruz to Petaluma to Bodega Bay? If that's your route you'll most likely only see the coast for a short portion of your trip.

Santa Cruz to San Francisco on Hwy 1 you'll be along the coast most of the way. It's pretty scenery, not the "classic Northern California coastline" but attractive nonetheless. You'll want to stop at Pigeon Point Lighthouse. Can't miss it, it's right off the highway and visible for miles. Best at sunset but perhaps you could come back sometime. If you like exploring tide pools a stop at Pescadero State Beach is in order. You'll often see seals and sea lions in the area so if you have a long lens you may want to bring it. The fields in the coastside are just starting to show their pumpkins. As the number of pumpkins increases you'll know you're getting close to Half Moon Bay the Pumpkin Capitol of the World.

San Francisco to Petaluma. San Francisco is many days worth of looking around. Doesn't sound like you're going to stop so you'll just continue through the city on you way to the Golden Gate Bridge. You'll want to stop several times for the bridge just to get some perspective on it. You'll stop at both the South and North visitor areas and head up into the Marin Headlands to get some good views. It's the next exit after the Northern viewing area. Exit and turn left under the freeway. The headlands are also home to abandoned WWII bunkers and a Nike missile base (closed on weekends). If you're up for a hike then the Point Bonita lighthouse is photogenic.

From the bridge the quick route to Petaluma is along 101 and is all inland, predominantly sprawl with few real interesting views. If you've stopped in San Francisco or it's getting late this is the way you'll go. However, if it's still early-ish you can take Hwy 1 (unless anyone in your party gets car sick, it's twisty). You'll add several hours to your trip and it only adds ocean views along Bolinas and Tomales Bays but it is the preferred cruising route. The countryside around Point Reyes/Olema is pretty. I prefer going during the spring when it's green. It's mostly brown now, more typical of California but not as pretty in my opinion.

Petaluma to Bodega Bay is all inland until you actually get to Bodega Bay. If you take the longer Hwy 1 route you'll end up backtracking over previously traveled roads or very similar countryside. Lots of farms, cows, sweeping vistas, etc. Before you head to Bodega Bay you'll want to re-watch The Birds. It's interesting to pick out places from the movie. If you make a side trip through the town of Bodega, not Bodega Bay, you can see the schoolhouse from the movie.

Actually, I've rambled on for some time. If you have some specific type of photography you like to do tell me and I'll see if I can't point you somewhere appropriate.

EDIT: See what happens when you take your time responding... Here I was, the first to respond and all these post get snuck in. Booooo

Message edited by author 2006-09-21 12:27:46.
09/21/2006 01:33:11 PM · #9
AWESOME! Thanks everyone!!

I should have said 4 +. Basically leaving San Jose in morning, want to arrive Petaluma early evening.

Mick, I live in Naples, FL a mile from a sunny beach...haven't broken out the camera though. Seems a little creepy to me.

Techno, thanks for taking some extra time rambling...I'll have both lenses (covering 28-200) to cover the gamut. Thanks for the advice for section of the trip North of San Fran. I was wondering about 101 vs 1.

09/21/2006 02:11:59 PM · #10
Año Nuevo State Reserve is right along your route, between Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay.

If you are starting in San Jose and going to Santa Cruz to start the trip, the drive down Highway 9 is far more scenic than the main route, Highway 17. You get to it from 17 by turning off at Los Gatos just west of San Jose. Highway 9 is slower, but rambles through the small towns of Boulder Creek Ben Lomond, and Felton (among others), and goes by Big Basin and Henry Cowell Redwoods State Parks.

Map centered on Felton, CA

If you're going north of SF, Muir Woods is a good option to see some redwoods ...
09/21/2006 05:38:03 PM · #11
With time being an issue I wouldn't even stop at Año Nuevo. On the best of days you can get some good wildlife shots but it's something you have to take your time with. You probably won't be happy going there and sticking to a schedule. During the winter the Año Nuevo experience is about as nice as getting teeth pulled.
09/21/2006 06:31:14 PM · #12
Yeah, Año Nuevo is more a day trip of it's own ... I used to know the guy who donated (at least part of) the land for that reserve -- I actually hiked out there before it was a park (and not since!) -- so I like to plug it when given an excuse, especially since that link specifically refers to the photo-op potential.
09/21/2006 10:32:03 PM · #13
Just checking in and letting contributors know I really appreciate your thoughts. Sometimes its infuriating asking for photo comments and not getting any, but this little thread shows what this community is about. Thanks all. Look forward to sharing photos on the other side.

Josh
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