With the southern end of Highway 1 in Big Sur still blocked from landslides that happened in 2023, there's only one way in and out of the picturesque area from the north. And now, after a slip-out on Saturday, that has been reduced to one usable lane with twice-daily convoys being allowed through.

Anyone who took a daytrip to Big Sur on Saturday, or those who were perhaps spending a weekend there, were surprised to learn they were stranded Saturday evening, with Highway 1 now closed at both the north end and south end of Big Sur.

The volatile highway, which is highly prone to land movement, offered one last rainy-season surprise during the relatively mild rains on Saturday. A whole section of the southbound lane fell into the ocean at at Palo Colorado Canyon, near the Rocky Creek Bridge, forcing Caltrans to shut down the highway completely until engineers could determine if it was sliding further.

The slip-out and road closure is about 17 miles south of Monterey.

Photo via Caltrans
Photo via Caltrans

As local station KION reported Saturday, Caltrans made the determination that the northbound lane was usable for traffic under close supervision, and they announced that convoys would begin Sunday morning, starting with one in the northbound direction.

Around 300 cars were waiting to head north out of the area on Sunday morning, as the Chronicle reports. An estimated 1,600 to 2,000 people were trapped overnight in the area, and a shortage of hotel rooms meant that many were sleeping in cars on roadsides, or seeking warmth at a temporary shelter that was set up at Big Sur Lodge.

Linda Molinari, a pilates instructor from Hollister, told the New York Times that she and her boyfriend were having a late lunch at Nepenthe when they heard the news from a server about the road closure. They had luckily brought their camper with them, which ended up becoming their shelter for the night. Molinari and her companion were among those 300 cars that drove out in the convoy Sunday morning, and she tells the Times, "It was a crazy, weird Easter."

The convoys were set to continue on Monday, one at 8 am and another at 4 pm, but Caltrans was warning motorists to "avoid all unnecessary travel."

Caltrans says it is assessing how to structurally reinforce and rebuild the collapsed section of roadway, but there's no time estimate yet for when Highway 1 can reopen to traffic. This could be disastrous, once again, for the hotels and restaurants in the area as the high summer season approaches.

As KSBW reports, all state parks in Big Sur are now closed, indefinitely.

Ripplewood Resort, which has 17 cabins and a grocery store, was all full on Saturday night, but a worker there told the Chronicle that the cabins all completely emptied out on Sunday, and it looks like they'll remain empty for some time.

The rockslides and landslides that closed Highway 1 at the southern end of the region occurred in January 2023 amid the torrential storms that hit Northern California last winter.

The other closure points are at Dolan Point (Post Mile 29.5) and Regent’s Slide (Post Mile 27.8), and northbound lanes are also closed south of Limekiln State Park (Post Mile 20). Anyone trying to travel north from Southern California, even before the Rocky Creek closure began, would need to take a three-hour-plus detour via 101 in order to reach Big Sur.

Other major landslides and bridge disasters have cut off the Big Sur community in the past, including a huge washout of Highway 1 in January 2021, and a massive landslide in May 2017 that was called the biggest in state history.