Ruth and I loved Paso Robles, CA and wanted to return. We saw it in December, 2019 to celebrate Ruth’s birthday. When we recently began planning our first trip in over a year, we hoped to make it that far south before returning home. Driving celebrated Highway One on the California coast again was another goal, but it was damaged by winter storms.
Because it’s a major tourist draw, reopening this highway became a California priority as the state began to open up after the long pandemic closure. We were told in Oakland that San Francisco has reopened in every way. By the time we made it to Highway One, only a portion of this scenic highway was still closed. This will remain true until some time in summer 2021. We were able to drive 42 miles of it before we were turned back near the Esalen Institute. Our goal then became to drive as far as we could up the other end past Hearst Castle and beyond. However, we became so fascinated by Highway 46 between Paso Robles and the coast that we did not make it very far.
Highway 46 is said to be a very beautiful highway and it is. We did not see it the first time we were in the city of Paso Robles, so I asked residents there if it was worth driving. Eyes lit up at its mention, so Ruth and I decided to drive it and linger. We did not make it to Hearst Castle for a 2nd visit because it is still closed and has not mentioned a 2021 reopening for tours yet. I also asked several Paso Roblans if the recent movie Mank was filmed at the castle. No one knew. I later learned that it was not. Those Hearst castle scenes that look so authentic were shot on movie sets in Pasadena and on Los Angeles sound stages. This was brilliant art decoration, and I learned that film crews are seldom granted access to the Hearst estate for movie-making.
What was so great about Highway 46? Leaving Paso Robles, it passed several wineries, this town’s lifeblood. Four of them were Castoro Cellars, Niner, Tin Alley, and Peachy Canyon. Then we hit coastal mountains and passed more wineries before cutting between mountains. All the way to the Pacific Ocean this road meant citrus trees, cattle, and ranches. Toward the end there were dramatic vistas including ocean views as hawks flew overhead. There were only 2 towns on Highway One north. The first was seaside Cambria with about 6,000 residents. The 2nd was San Simeon, the Hearst Castle’s community.