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Carmel CA Travel Blog

The Insiders View Blog - Carmel Mission Inn’s blog page where we hope you will find information that will enhance your overall experience in Carmel California.

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Kentyn Reynolds - Friday, January 10, 2014
By Don Smith

Lastly, if you only had time for one stop, without hesitation I’d tell you to visit Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.

Located 27 miles south of the Carmel Mission Inn, this iconic scene sums up the beauty of the Big Sur coast in one iconic setting.

The cove is relatively kelp free accounting for the turquoise color of the cove. Moreover, the cove is fed by fresh water year-round from McWay Creek with the iconic McWay Waterfall (80 feet tall), making it the tallest freshwater fall anywhere on the entire west coast.

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park McWay Fall

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park – McWay Fall

I captured this image in mid-January when the sun was aligned with the opening of the cove. It will move on a northerly track until June 21st – summer solstice, only to return its southerly trek between then and December 21 – winter solstice!

Julia Pfeiffer State Park is photographable any time during the year, but winter and spring happen to be my personal favorite times!


Don Smith teaches two photo workshops along the Big Sur coast each year and they are headquartered at the beautiful Carmel Mission Inn. There are a limited number of spots available for April 2014. Please go to Don Smith Photography website for more information.