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Harness the Energy of Big Sur, California

This stretch of magnificent Central California coastline has a history of healing and power, which has attracted multiple retreat and Zen centers.

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At specific points around the world, the earth churns with tangible, tingly energy at sites known as vortices, visited by those seeking connection, healing, or a good story to tell. This special series in your road map to six such hotspots in the Western United States—and what to do once you get there.

Homelands Of: Esselen, Rumsen, Salinan

According to the Esselen, a small Indigenous tribe who lived in Big Sur’s Ventana Wilderness for 6,000 years before missionaries came along promising salvation, the world began at a backcountry peak now known as Pico Blanco, and in Ventana’s hot springs, they found spiritual renewal, strengthening, and cleansing. Though its vortex-worthiness is debated, this stretch of magnificent Central California coastline has a history of healing and power, which has attracted multiple retreat and Zen centers.

EXPLORE

Time your visit here to avoid the weekend if possible, and do your driving early in the morning to bypass crowds and a potentially harrowing ride: The narrow two-lane road, which hugs dramatic coastal bluffs, makes for striking views by day but can feel precarious at nightfall.

STAY

Spend the evening stargazing from your deck, be it at the Post Ranch Inn, a luscious collection of cliffside bungalows with daily yoga and guided nature walks, or Treebones Resort, where luxe-leaning yurts and an open-air canopied yoga pavilion tucked against towering conifers and rolling hills promise a low-impact, high-reward stay. For fewer frills but just as much fun, check in at historic Big Sur Lodge in the heart of famed Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park among ancient redwoods, part of the vast Los Padres National Forest, which stretches some 220 miles across California—all the way to your next destination.

Also visit:

Mount Shasta, California

Ojai, California

Joshua Tree, California

Sedona, Arizona

Carefree, Arizona