Weekend Window: Big Sur, Calif.

ByABC News via via logo

Feb. 4, 2007 — -- Big Sur is 150 miles south of San Francisco and 300 miles north of Los Angeles. It is also one of "Good Morning America Weekend Edition" anchor Kate Snow's favorite places on the planet: It's the place where her husband proposed to her.

The stunning coastline draws people to Big Sur and its 70 miles of rugged cliffs with waves crashing on jagged rock.

Author Henry Miller called it "nature smiling at herself in the mirror of eternity."

"The interaction between the ocean and the land here is absolutely unique from just about any place in the world," said John Bradford, district ranger at the Los Padres National Forest.

But it's more than pretty scenery. Big Sur is one of those rare places that can really change you; it's a state of mind.

"There is so much diversity; there is so much beauty," said Matt Green, the supervising ranger at Big Sur Station. "People come here, they walk along the beach. … I think it gives them perspective on what is really important in their lives."

A lot of people have stories about Big Sur, but Snow's story goes back nine years during her first visit there. There, her husband asked her to marry him.

One year later, the couple was married at sunset on a point high above the surf. Every time they return, they see something new, and yet, at the same time, the place never changes.

Two million visitors drive Highway 1 every year, stopping at lookouts and hiking among the redwoods.

"McWay Falls is a waterfall that is fed from McWay Creek," Green said. "There are not many places in the world where we have a natural waterfall that descends down on the beach like it does."

Jeff Norman, the local historian, can tell you all about the first settlers.

"Very difficult place to run cattle -- the hillsides are steep. There is very little pasture, and … you just are left with the conclusion that these people must have come to Big Sur, not only because there was available land, but because it was so damn beautiful," Norman said.

By the 1880s, there were tourists, but only wagon trails.

Highway 1 wasn't completed until the 1930s; it took 18 years to finish.

Even today, there is really no town center. In fact, fewer people live there now than a century ago.

"Big Sur has been very slow to receive the human impact," Norma said. "I think almost any place on the planet that still has that strong impact of nature is inherently beautiful."

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