The drive down Highway 1 is supposed to be scenic, sweeping and unimpeded by traffic. But on the recent July 4 holiday, it was an infuriating parking lot, clogged for nearly three miles as photo-seekers jammed up the road in Big Sur.
In a video posted to Vimeo, vehicles can be seen stretching down the road from the small parking lot near Bixby Creek Bridge as guy in a Buick Enclave holds up the line. The famous bridge, well-loved for its role in countless car commercials and the HBO show “Big Little Lies,” has exploded in popularity with the rise of social media.
The lot near the bridge isn’t meant for hundreds of tourists; it has enough space for about 20 cars. From the video, you can see additional cars parked on the dirt shoulder while hundreds more vehicles queue up, waiting for a space to become available in the lot.
Photo: David Chen / EyeEm / Getty Images, Getty Images/EyeEm
The row of cars, either waiting for parking or simply caught up in the traffic jam, goes on past Notleys Landing, making that romantic Big Sur drive seem a lot less appealing.
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The video comes at a time of elevated concern for locals about the impact of tourists in the region. A few days after that video was filmed, a banner reading “OVERTOURISM IS KILLING BIG SUR” was hung from Bixby Bridge.
Along with the inconvenience of traffic impacts, locals are concerned about inconsiderate or even illegal behavior by some visitors. Butch Kromland with the Community Association of Big Sur told KSBW that the influx of misbehaving tourists started becoming noticeable around 2005. As social media grew in popularity, so too did the misadventures.
“The barrier between appropriate and inappropriate behavior, that barrier has melted away in a lot of ways and I think that is a result of normalizing things in way via social media,” said Kromland.
Among the common complaints of locals are trampled flora and fauna, illegal camping and tourists wandering onto Highway 1 to take dramatic selfies.