Bixby Bridge

Drive the Pacific Coast Highway and you have to cross Bixby Bridge in California, ten miles north of Big Sur and 30 minutes south of Monterey.

Bixby Bridge in Big Sur in CaliforniaBixby Bridge

You have to cross the bridge as it's the only way to drive the Pacific Coast Highway along the California coast, and most people will pull in at the viewpoint on the ocean side of the highway, just north of the bridge. It allows you to look back at it and get a great photo, as well as more photos along the spectacular Big Sur coastline. Selfies await!

Bixby Bridge in Big Sur in CaliforniaBixby Bridge in Big Sur in California

Bixby Bridge History

The full name of the bridge is the Bixby Creek Bridge, and it's sometimes called the Bixby Canyon Bridge, though mostly it's just called the Bixby Bridge.

Work started on the bridge in 1931 and it was completed in 1932, although the highway over the bridge required a further five years to finish.

Bixby Bridge in Big Sur in CaliforniaBixby Bridge

Prior to the new highway opening, there was a detour of several miles inland where the Old Coast Road originally crossed the canyon. This road was often closed in winter due to bad weather, which then meant a much longer detour inland for anyone wanting or needing to travel the coast along here.

Bixby Bridge in Big Sur in CaliforniaBixby Bridge

Bixby Bridge Facts and Figures

The bridge cost about $200,000 (equivalent to over $3 million today). At a height of 260 feet (79 m) it became the highest single-span arch bridge in the world, and it still is one of the tallest single-span bridges even 90 years later.

It's 714 feet (218 m) long in total, with 360 feet (110 m) of that being the arch. This made it the longest single-span concrete bridge in California at the time.

It is also 24-foot (7.3 m) wide, which means it doesn't meet modern standards which require bridges to be at least 32 feet (9.8 m) wide to accommodate modern large vehicles. Don't worry, though, RVs can still fit across it!

Bixby Bridge in Big Sur in CaliforniaBixby Bridge

So, Who Was Bixby?

Charles Henry Bixby was an East Coast businessman and entrepreneur who moved to California in 1852 and did a tremendous amount of work while he was there. He bought land around what's now called Bixby Bridge, he raised cattle, he logged timber, he built a limekiln, and he built a sawmill. The creek here was originally called Mill Creek, before the name was changed to Bixby Creek.

Bixby Bridge in Big Sur in CaliforniaBixby Bridge

Bixby was also responsible for the first road that existed as a precursor of the current Pacific Coast Highway. He asked the county to build a road connecting Bixby Creek with other places along this stretch of coast but they refused, saying no-one would ever want to live there. He therefore got a team of men together and built it himself.

The first stretch north to Carmel Mission required 23 bridges to be constructed. He later built the road south towards Big Sur, though the short stretch here over Bixby Creek required them to make the inland detour.

Bixby Bridge in Big Sur in CaliforniaBixby Bridge

Scenic Highway

The 72-mile (116-km) section of the Pacific Coast Highway north and south of Bixby Bridge was the first road in California to be designated as a Scenic Highway in 1965. The official dedication ceremony was performed the following year by President Lyndon Johnson's wife, Lady Bird Johnson. The ceremony took place at Bixby Bridge.

Where to Stay in Big Sur



Other California Coast Pages

  • Encinitas

    Encinitas is a beach city in Southern California, famous for surfing, and regularly chosen as one of the best places to live in both California and the USA.

  • Oceanside

    Oceanside is a typical southern California beach town with a surf culture and with the Pacific Coast Highway running right through it.

  • Carlsbad

    Carlsbad is a beach city north of San Diego in southern California famous for its flower fields, LEGOLAND resort and water park, surfing and SEA LIFE Aquarium.

  • San Clemente California

    San Clemente in California is a small city on the Pacific Coast Highway midway between San Diego and Los Angeles, noted for its beaches and surfing.

  • Santa Monica, California

    Santa Monica in California is famous for its pier, and beaches, and is one of the best west coast vacation spots, with hotels, restaurants, surfing, museums.

  • Santa Monica Pier

    Santa Monica Pier is just off the Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica near Los Angeles, with an amusement park, an aquarium and many other attractions.

  • Vagabond's House Inn

    Historic and romantic Vagabond's House Inn Bed and Breakfast in Carmel is a great place to stay with free wine and cheese and generous breakfast.

  • Malibu

    Malibu is a beach city north of Los Angeles famous for the celebrities who live there in expensive homes and the Pacific Coast Highway runs through it and there are beaches and hikes for all to enjoy.

  • Whale Watching in California

    Whale watching in California is one of the most popular things to do along the Pacific Coast Highway, inplaces like San Diego, San Francisco and many more.

  • Visiting Hearst Castle

    This Visiting Hearst Castle page gives all the practicalities including location, types of tour, length of tours, how long to allow, and much more information.

  • Unique Inns on the Pacific Coast Highway

    Unique Inns on the Pacific Coast Highway include some of the best independently-owned boutique hotels, spas, and lodges in California, Oregon and Washington.

  • Top Wildlife Spots on the California Coast

    Pacific Coast Highway Travel recommends some of the top wildlife spots along the California coast.

  • Stanford Inn by the Sea Mendocino

    The Stanford Inn by the Sea in Mendocino on the California coast is an eco-resort with yoga classes and the award-winning Ravens Restaurant.

  • Santa Cruz

    Santa Cruz on the Pacific Coast Highway in California has its famous boardwalk, beaches, wine tastings, Surfing Museum, Mission, and Marine Discovery Center.

  • Santa Cruz Downtown Wine Tastings

    There are plenty of Santa Cruz downtown wine tastings including Beauregard Vineyards,Storrs Winery and Pelican Ranch Winery,all with tasting rooms.



Recent Articles

  1. Why Is Pacific Coast Highway So Loved (And What To See Along The Way)

    Sep 10, 21 03:43 AM

    It's easy to see why the Pacific Coast Highway is so popular, but you don't really know until you've driven - and experienced it - for yourself.

    Read More

  2. Pacific Coast Highway Golf Courses

    Sep 03, 21 09:18 AM

    The Pacific Coast Highway’s gold courses is one reason the PCH drive along the California Coast is popular, as it has some of the top golf courses in the USA.

    Read More

  3. Here are 4 easy seaside hikes in Orange County with a cool breeze and ocean view

    Sep 03, 21 06:34 AM

    Exploring the area’s hiking trails doesn’t have to be an all-day, exhausting endeavor. Sometimes, you just need a light stroll to feel invigorated and accomplished – and what better way to soak in the…

    Read More