It receives about the same number of visitors as Yosemite National Park which has led to ongoing, lengthy traffic backups and parking issues, especially during summer vacation periods and holiday weekends.
Because the vast majority of visitors only see Big Sur's dramatic coastline, some consider the eastern border of Big Sur to be the coastal flanks of the Santa Lucia Mountains, only 3 to 12 miles (5 to 19 km) inland.
Others include the vast inland areas comprising the Los Padres National Forest, Ventana Wilderness, Silver Peak Wilderness, and Fort Hunter Liggett about 20 miles (30 km) inland to the eastern foothills of the Santa Lucia Mountains.
The Big Sur Local Coastal Plan, approved by Monterey County Supervisors in 1981, states the region is meant to be an experience that visitors transit through, not a destination.
For that reason, development of all kinds is severely restricted.
The first American use of the name "Sur" was by the U. Coast Survey in 1851, which renamed a point of land that looked like an island and was shaped like a trumpet, formerly known as "Morro de la Trompa" and "Punta que Parece Isla" during Spanish times, to Point Sur.
The English-speaking homesteaders petitioned the United States Post Office in Washington D. to change the name of their post office from Arbolado to Big Sur, and the rubber stamp using that name was returned on March 6, 1915, cementing the name in place.
Traffic and parking is constantly bad during summer and holidays weekends and some visitors don't obey the laws.
An estimated four to five million individuals visited Big Sur during 20, comparable to or greater than the number of visitors to Yosemite National Park.
Since the introduction of smart phones and social media, the popularity of certain Big Sur attractions like Bixby Creek Bridge, Pfeiffer Beach, Mc Way Falls, and the Pine Ridge Trail have dramatically increased.