When Is the Best Time
Garrapata is one of the most exceptional State Parks along the Pacific Coast HW 101 in California. Located just three miles south of the frequently crowded Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. Overall there are 19 stops to explore Garrapata and its beauty. Garrapata is open from sunrise to sunset and is a magical place to watch the sunset. No entrance fee is requested for this beautiful park.
Enjoy the diverse coastal vegetation, the epic views, the dense redwood grooves, and have an eye out to the sea. Sea lions, harbour seals, sea otters, and pelicans frequent the waters around Garrapata.
The spectacular coastline, the beach, and the hikes are worth a break throughout the year. By chance, we passed by and were amazed by its beauty. This State Park is definitely overlooked and not crowded. In the end, we spent two days in the park and explored many of the trails. What makes it unique are the many small, simple things.
The summer is the foggiest season, but this makes the coastline so colourful, with lots of different flowers everywhere. Clearer skies and the best time for a visit are September and October followed by April and May. The beautiful scenery of Garrapata with very few visitors was a marvellous highlight for us in California. Bring a jacket it is windy at the coast.
Spring (Special Season)
An amazing time when colourful wildflower carpets cover most of the coastal area. However, the fog transports humidity to the coastal area, and even in the summer, many wildflowers are in bloom.
If visiting Garrapata Beach, the best time is low tide. At high tide, parts may be inaccessible, especially during strong surf. This beach is great for a stroll but not for swimming; rip currents occur here. Tide times for Garrapata Beach
The Garrapata State Park is overlooked therefore, not crowded like all the other State Parks along the HW 1. It gets a little busy during the weekends, but due to the many spots in the State Park, it is rarely overrun. It's such breathtaking coastal scenery with awesome walking tracks that you shouldn't miss. Plan at least half a day and make several stops. You won't regret it.
Garrapata versus Point Lobos
Both State Parks are beautiful. But if you are limited in time and like to avoid the crowds, I would go for Garrapata. The benefits Garrapata is still a hidden gem, it has no parking issues, no entrance fee, but lots of magical picture options and stellar views.
Weather Big Sur
It’s a moderate cool coastal climate with moist air. The average temperature is between 50 to 65°F year-round. Most of the precipitation occurs from October to April with up to 50 inches/ 1270 mm. Fog happens between May and October usually from the night until late morning. If it’s hot in the backcountry, the mist might stay until the afternoon. It provides moisture for the redwoods and all other plants along the coast in the dry summer months—the reason for lush and colourful vegetation.
Where to Stay
Most people experience the Garrapata State Park by chance along HW 1 although it's worth staying here for an entire day. It's one of the most beautiful parks along this highway. What we loved most; there was no one else around most of the time on the hiking trails and at the coast. Very difficult to get such a benefit during August, when all other parks are overrun. You always get a parking space even during the busy summertime. If your schedule allows, I recommend staying at least a night in an area like Monterey.
The best-situated hotel with spectacular views is the Resort Hyatt Carmel Highlands. There is no campground in Garrapata State Park.
Best Months to Visit
Location and Tips
The breathtaking Garrapata State Park is located along the famous HW 1. Nevertheless, not many cars stop for a look, walk or hike, although there are many trails available. There are 19 stops in total. If coming from Monterey, the first stop is immediately after the State Park sign on the right.
Coming from the south, directly behind the Garrapata Creek bridge, are the first two stops, numbers 18 and 19. They give access to the marvellous beach. Most of the provided parking lots are small but usually big enough. Numbers 7,8,9, and 10 are leading to different hiking trails and to the first part of the Soberanes Canyon.
Trails are easy to walk, however, don't let your children walk unattended especially not close to the sea.
Trail Closure Update April 2022
The Rocky Ridge Trail and Soberanes Canyon Trail are combined a great round trip. Due to immense fire damage which took the firefighters 83 days to extinguish in 2016 the circular trail is still closed. Accessible is the first 1.25 miles into the Soberanes Canyon since April 2019.
Stops You Shouldn't Miss
If time is limited, I recommend stopping at least at number 6 for a coastal walk and 19 for the one-mile long Garrapata Beach.
While walking the coastal path, have an eye to the sea, and you may spot sea otters in the kelp forests, seals, and sometimes even migrating whales. We spotted sea otters and seals in one day.
Dogs are only allowed at the beach, not on the walking paths.
Garrapata State Park is an excellent spot to watch the sunset. Sunset Times
There isn't any information provided at the stops. Download the Garrapata State Park map including hiking trails before visiting Garrapata State Park. Download Garrapata brochure and map