Keyhole Arch at Pfeiffer Beach – Big Sur, California - Atlas Obscura

Keyhole Arch at Pfeiffer Beach

Centuries of crashing waves carved out this small hole in the rock, which lights up at certain parts of the year. 

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Down a narrow, one lane dirt road in Big Sur, California, lies a secluded beach hidden by large, steep cliffs. The cliffs keep a beautiful rock formation known as Keyhole Arch hidden from the hustle and bustle. Located just off Purple Sand Beach, Keyhole Arch is a natural hole carved into the rocks from the crashing waves around it. 

Every year around the winter solstice, for just a couple of days a beautiful light show happens at the Keyhole Arch. Right before sunset, the sun will dip down right in the center of the arch. On a clear evening with a low tide, the angle of the mid-winter sun allows for a stunning natural glow. The phenomena doesn’t have fixed dates, but if you can be the at the right time you’ll see a beautiful, magical, and rare sunset. 

Know Before You Go

Turn off of Cabrillo Hwy. onto Sycamore Canyon Rd. The road starts out paved but soon turns into a one lane dirt road for about two miles, passing by some houses. At the end of the road is the park parking lot with a booth, run by a private concessionaire, there is a $12 entry fee per vehicle. If the parking lot is full, it is difficult to find parking on the shoulder.

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