Garrapata State Park - The Jewel on HW 1 | Hiking Trails - Tips - Map
Garrapata State Park - The Jewel on HW 1

Garrapata State Park - The Jewel on HW 1

United States
United States

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.

One of the coastal trail with wildflowers in Garrapata
We hiked all trails in Garrapata.

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.

One of the 19 stops and trails in Garrapata
Stop number two leading to the sea.

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. 

Fog is rolling in to the beautiful Garrapata State Park
The fog appears suddenly and is unpredictable in the summer.

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) 

The exceptional coastal vegetation in Garrapata

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.

Garrapata Beach

Garrapata Beach during a foggy day
A long boardwalk and staircase lead down to the beach.

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


A coastal hiking trail through a field of wildflowers.
We felt like being alone in the entire State Park.

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

A bird in the thick bush
Garrapata is a quiet park, the reason that we spotted different birds.

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

Sunset view in the Garrapata State Park
The fog disappeared, and we watched this incredible sunset.

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

Monterey Harbour on a sunny day
Monterrey is an excellent location with great seafood in the harbour restaurants

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.

Different seafood choices
We ate seafood the entire week during our stay.

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

California, HWY 1, Carmel
United States
United States

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.

Garrapata Creek Bridge from 1931

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.

Pine trees full of lichen
The moisture of the fog supports the rich vegetation.

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 dense and thick vegetation in Garrapata
Mixed evergreen forests dominate the hinterland of Garrapata.

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

A group of otters close to the shore in Garrapata
A playful otter family close to the coastal walk.

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.

Sea lions are close to the shore for feeding
We also spotted seals during our visit.

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.

Top Tips

A group of pelicans glide above the sea at sunset
Enjoy the epic views from the coastal walks.

Garrapata State Park is an excellent spot to watch the sunset. Sunset Times

The diverse coastal vegetation and dense forest
The beautiful coast next to the highway but you don't hear any traffic the sound of the sea only.

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

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Created by
Micha Herber-Bleich
Micha Herber-Bleich
I am always open, curious about new…