Big Sur is one of California’s most spectacular natural wonders, and any drive down that stretch of Highway 1 is truly a sight to behold. One of its lesser-known elements is Calla Lily Valley at Garrapata Beach, which becomes overtaken with hundreds of blooming white calla lilies every year. If you can manage to catch them in bloom between January-April, you’re in for a real treat.
2023 note: Like many CA beaches, the January storms damaged Garrapata Beach and Calla Lily Valley. Keep in mind that you may find debris on the path and the creek is deeper than usual. Many of the plants were ripped out, but as of early February a decent amount of blooms are beginning to appear nonetheless. You can refer to recent photos tagged at Garrapata State Beach, Calla Lily Valley, and #callalilyvalley on Instagram for an idea of what to expect.
Calla Lily Valley is easily accessible via a short trail down to the beach. This hiking loop via AllTrails is a nice route for finding the calla lilies as well as fantastic ocean views.
It’s best to visit early on a weekday to avoid crowds, as the valley is quite small. Back Country Now also warns that the trail has poison ivy, so dress with long pants and be on high alert. Of course, be sure to stay on the trail and don’t pick or step on any of the plants.
While you’re at it, consider bringing a picnic to enjoy on Garrapata Beach, or carry on down the coast to see the Bixby Bridge, which is just 5 minutes south. The famous McWay Falls is 40 minutes further down Highway 1.
For more ideas to enjoy on your road trip, see our guides to elephant seal viewing and whale watching.
Calla lilies come in a variety of gorgeous colors and are native to South Africa. They’re found in many places throughout Northern California, including SF’s own Golden Gate Park.
Be sure to visit Calla Lily Valley between late January through April for your best shot at catching the flowers in bloom!