McWay Falls

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North America, United States

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  • McWay Falls is an incredibly beautiful waterfall famous for its location in the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park in Big Sur – a location that is so picturesque it is as if  you have stepped straight into a fairy tale.

    The 80ft high, fresh waterfall tumbles over a steep granite cliff into a little cove (referred to as both McWay Cove and Waterfall Cove) which opens up to the Pacific Ocean. Once upon a time McWay Falls actually fell directly into the ocean but a landslide in the 1980s means that it now falls on to the sandy beach.

    Visitors can view the waterfall by following the “Waterfall Overlook Trail” from the State Park car park. The trail is only around 0.5 miles long and provides truly stunning views of the waterfall. Perhaps the only disappointment for visitors to McWay Falls will be that they cannot actually reach the cove where McWay Falls land – it has been deemed too dangerous and anyone who tries it will find themselves being given a pretty hefty fine! We don’t think you should let this put you off though – the views from the trail really are magnificent and, if anything, it is all the more beautiful for its isolation from thousands of tourists – it certainly allows for better photo opportunities!

    McWay Falls are a beautiful sight whatever time of the day but are perhaps extra special at sunset when the warm yellow light sets upon the cliffs and trees and makes the blue water seem even more vibrant.



    Photo by the_tahoe_guy License CC BY 2.0

    Photo by Dawn Ellner License CC BY 2.0

    Photo by Allan Chen License CC BY 2.0

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General Information
Type of Activity: Nature
Activity: Waterfalls
Area: North America
Country: United States
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