The most scenic road trip in the U.S. is back on: As of July, drivers can once again take in the hair-raising cliffs, calming redwoods, raucous elephant seal rookeries, and pocket beaches lining the Pacific Coast Highway from Monterey to Morro Bay. For 14 months, the drive was off-limits after a landslide buried a quarter-mile stretch of highway south of Big Sur – which for most of last year found itself a coastal “island” due to another landslide that took out a bridge to the town’s north. The reopening couldn’t have come at a better time: September brings a noticeable drop in RVs clogging lookouts; perfect hiking temperatures; and orcas, humpbacks, and blue whales swimming offshore. In October, Andrew Molera State Park’s eucalyptus trees fill with monarch butterflies on their annual migration south. The only drawback? With one of California’s favorite playgrounds back in business, rooms at Ventana Big Sur and Post Ranch Inn and that table at Nepenthe are hot tickets once again.

Top photo: Courtesy of Bluejayphoto/Getty Images

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