A portion of the coastal highway had collapsed earlier this year, due to a mudslide from heavy rain.


An Instagram-worthy stretch of Highway 1 in Northern California is scheduled to reopen ahead of schedule, just in time for summer.

That portion of highway in Monterey County winds through rugged coastal cliffs, showing off sweeping Pacific Ocean views. It was forced to close in late January, after heavy rain triggered a mudslide so powerful that a chunk of the roadway was swept away, leaving a huge gap in one of the country's most popular road trip routes.

Work on Highway 1 wasn't expected to be completed until late June, but is now scheduled to wrap up at the end of April, according to California's State Transportation Agency. Favorable weather helped accelerate reconstruction efforts, Caltrans officials said.

construction crews dig debris from a washed out section of Highway 1
Credit: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty

On Jan. 28, both lanes of Highway 1 sank into the Pacific Ocean, about 15 miles south of Big Sur, as the area — already more susceptible to mudslides because of increasingly intense wildfires — was again being hammered by heavy rains. "The heavy rainfall is always a challenge, but when you've got the fires and the rainfall within a few months of each other, even a few years of each other, you generate a whole new category of risks," Stanford University environmental studies professor Chris Field told NBC News at the time.

A different section of Highway 1 collapsed into the ocean near Big Sur in 2017, forcing the roadway to close for several months. This year's reopening of Highway 1 comes not just in time for summer, but also as an increasing number of Californians are receiving COVID-19 vaccinations and as pandemic restrictions are loosening across the state.

Meena Thiruvengadam is a Travel + Leisure contributor who has visited 50 countries on six continents and 47 U.S. states. She loves historic plaques, wandering new streets and walking on beaches. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.