Home California Postcard: The Lone Cypress and Pebble Beach

Postcard: The Lone Cypress and Pebble Beach

written by Penny Sadler


I’d heard a lot about California’s scenic 17 Mile Drive, it was on my list of recommended attractions in the Monterey Bay area. Would it really be worth it I wondered. I’d just driven Highway 1, the most spectacular coastline I’d seen since my 1999 trip to Italy’s Amalfi Coast. (read my article The Ultimate California Road Trip.)

Postcard:the Lone Cypress and Pebble beach

Highway 1 between Cambria and Carmel.


17 Mile Drive is one of California’s most famous tourist attractions. Even if you have never been there you’ve seen it – in photographs, online, in books and on television. It’s best known for two reasons: the Pebble Beach golf course (extremely exclusive), and the Lone Cypress said to be the most photographed tree in the world. The Lone Cypress is the trademark of Pebble Beach Properties – that’s right, a 250-year-old tree is trademarked. If there is any one thing that defines the area, it’s this ancient Monterey cypress, clinging to life on the edge of granite rock and cabled in place, just to make sure it doesn’t go anywhere.

Pebble Beach is one of only two places where you can see native stands of Monterey Cypress.


The Lone Cypress, from Adventures of a Carry-on

Yep. That’s the Lone Cypress.

Many people come to 17 Mile Drive strictly to photograph this tree. I was disappointed to discover that you can only see it from a viewing platform above. Sadly, tourism has a way of uniting and separating at the same time.

Want To Know More About Pebble Beach?

Is there any other reason to visit 17 Mile Drive? Sure, but only if you enjoy natural beauty, the sound of the sea crashing against the rocks, and breath the ocean air.  You’ll also see marine animals in their natural habitat: sea otters playing in the ocean, California seals lounging on the beach, and whales migrating.


Ultimate California Road Trip to Pebble Beach

Sunset at Pebble Beach.

Unfortunately, I didn’t drive the entire 17 miles.  I’d invited a friend along and after getting lost we arrived so late we only had about an hour before sunset. Taking into account all the stops to take photographs, I’d estimate we saw about three miles of 17 Mile Drive. But we ended up having a good laugh about it and I felt happy that I’d seen the Lone Cypress and experienced a glorious sunset with a friend.

Want To Know More About The Lone Cypress?

If you want to read in-depth about the Lone Cypress and other places for viewing native stands of this beautiful tree, this is an excellent article in the LA Times, Standing Before The Lone Cypress.


Sunset at the Lone Cypress Pebble Beach

Viewing platform is about 40 feet away from the Lone Cypress.

If You Go

If you want to go straight for the Lone Cypress enter at one of the Pacific Grove gates. The Lone Cypress is stop No. 16.
For more specific information on how to access 17 Mile Drive I’ve included this link from About.com

 Have you been to Pebble Beach?

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Margie Miklas October 30, 2018 at 8:16 pm

Very helpful post, especially since I plan on driving along the coast and will look for photo opportunities. Thank you,, Penny.

Penny Sadler October 30, 2018 at 8:45 pm

Thanks for the comment and have a great time!

John June 29, 2015 at 12:03 pm

What a gorgeous place. I would love to be under that tree in the second photo and just relax for hours with a good book.

Doreen Pendgracs June 8, 2015 at 9:03 am

You reminded me of how much I love the 17-mile drive! It’s been a very long time since I’ve had the pleasure of driving it. but I don’t think the lone cypress would make the list as the most photographed tree in the world. Probably in CA, or maybe in the US. But there are so many trees that serve as landmarks around the world. Someone should write a book about them!

Penny Sadler June 8, 2015 at 12:11 pm

Hi Doreen, Probably in California yes, And I’m sure it’s up there with the many other trees you refer to. I’d love to do that. What a fun project! Thanks for the comment!

Lillie June 7, 2015 at 1:26 pm

I love how tranquil and scene and the light are here! Mmm…

Mary @ Green Global Travel June 7, 2015 at 10:45 am

We would love to visit and have time to enjoy the nature on California’s coast. Even though you couldn’t get close to the tree, it’s pretty spectacular to see it in the distance with the cliffs.

Penny Sadler June 8, 2015 at 12:10 pm

It is. Lovely drive!

Elle | Spain Buddy June 3, 2015 at 3:18 pm

How cool is that? It’s standing so proud!

Lovely read with lovely pics.

Elle xxx

Penny Sadler June 3, 2015 at 3:58 pm

An LA Times writer called it a spindly conifer. LOL!.

Wandering Educators June 1, 2015 at 3:08 pm

I love that photo! No wonder it’s the most photographed tree!

Penny Sadler June 1, 2015 at 3:20 pm

Well thank you but to be sure there are probably more interesting looking trees, however this tree has quite a great story and history.

Marcy Braiker May 31, 2015 at 11:39 pm

If you were driving South along the 17 mile drive, you can continue on past the tree, etc. you will come to the most charming city of Carmel. If you continue on a southerly route along the coast you see miles and miles of stunning scenary including beautiful pvt. homes on the East side of the road and Jutting rocks and waves breaking over rugged beaches on the West, all for free. It is an amazing place to take a drive, and worth continuing on.

Penny Sadler June 1, 2015 at 3:21 pm

Hey Marcy Thanks for your comments. I did spend some time in Carmel though I did not arrive there via 17 Mile Drive. I will have to do it again next time I’m in the area.
You must live there!? 😉

Ryan Biddulph May 30, 2015 at 8:38 am

Hi Penny,

I’ve not been to Pebble Beach but would have to see Cali, and the Lone Cypress, to digest more of my home country. Too busy with SE Asia 😉 I had no clue this was the most snapped tree on earth but I do vaguely remember how famous it was whenever I watched The Pebble Beach golf tournament on TV. I recall views of the seals by the water too, when the announcers chatted about the surrounding area. Neat place!

Thanks for the fun share.


Penny Sadler May 30, 2015 at 9:41 am

Hi Ryan, Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. California is amazing and worth the effort. I hope you do get to see it and I hope they get some rain!


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