The Central Coast is a magical place, full of natural beauty — some obvious and impossible to miss and some rare and fleeting. One of my favorites is only available for a limited performance during the late Fall/Winter. During the few weeks of Winter Solstice at Pfeiffer Beach, a breathtaking phenomenon occurs that attracts photographers from around the world.
If you are brave enough to face the cold and wind and aren’t afraid of a bit of a hike at sunset you can catch the winter sun as it sets perfectly beyond the Keyhole Arch. As you gaze towards the horizon the alignment with the arch will result in a startling fiery burst of light. Keep in mind that the dates are subject to Mother Nature and not guaranteed — and of course, weather conditions don’t always cooperate — but this is a breathtaking vista worthy of your bucket list.
As the angle of the sun gradually changes from day to day, the “best” day for viewing the light show is impossible to predict. This spectacle goes from good to great to good again throughout the winter solstice.
May 20th of 2017, the area saw a massive landslide adding a million tons of rock and 13 acres of land to the coastline but leaving a lot of destruction in its wake. Pfeiffer Bridge was already closed due to storm damage that occurred earlier in the season but this event made Hwy 1 impassible. It is set to reopen in the summer of 2018.
While Pfeiffer Beach is open, many of the trails are closed. Hwy 1 is closed at Gorda from the south. The park is currently only accessible from the north. For up to date information contact, California State Parks, https://www.parks.ca.gov or CalTrans http://www.dot.ca.gov