Q. Why is Esalen closed?
A. Extreme winter weather has caused multiple rock slides and road closures both north and south of Esalen, preventing reliable public access to our Big Sur campus. We made the difficult decision to close on February 12 to ensure the safety and welfare of our workshop participants, staff, and residential community.
Q. When will Esalen reopen for public workshops?
Q. How can I reach Esalen when it reopens in July?
A. Due to the structural failure of the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge north of Esalen, the recommended route to our campus is from the south.
- From northern California, take Highway 101 south to Paso Robles, then CA Route 46 west to Cambria. Then follow Highway 1 north to Esalen.
- From southern California, take Highway 101 north to San Luis Obispo, then Highway 1 north to Esalen.
- Depending on weather conditions, there is also an alternate route from Hwy 101 to Highway 1 using the Nacimiento-Fergusson Road.
- We are approximately 100 miles north of San Luis Obispo and 70 miles north of Cambria. When you reach Lucia, a bend in the road where there is a restaurant and motel, you are 10 miles south of Esalen.
- Look for the Esalen Institute sign on the left side of the highway, at mile marker 32.4.
- If you choose to travel from the north, a shuttle service is available from Monterey Airport.
Read more about road conditions here.
Q. Who is on the Big Sur campus now?
A. Our temporary closure has resulted in significant changes for the Esalen community. As a non-profit organization, Esalen faces an unprecedented financial loss as we depend on our workshops to make up approximately 90% of our operating budget. We have announced temporary and permanent layoffs, resulting in a core group of staff remaining on our Big Sur property to care for the land and to prepare for Esalen’s reopening. Another smaller team works in our Carmel office to support guest relations and other administrative needs.
Q. What is Esalen doing to support impacted staff?
A. Both Esalen’s Human Resources team and a special transitions team have been put in place to provide a variety of assistance and support for staff who have been impacted by a temporary or permanent layoff. Benefits include health coverage for the duration of the closure for temporary layoffs, a stipend to assist in relocation expenses, and additional support in moving, job placement, and more.
Q. Has Esalen sustained any damage on its property?
A. Yes, the property has sustained some damage to its infrastructure, including slides and the loss of a number of trees during the more severe winter storms. The estimated cost to repair is up to $2 million. There was no significant damage to our buildings or accommodations which will allow us to welcome workshops again once road conditions improve.
Q. What can people do to support Esalen?
A. During these challenging times, we turn to our community of supporters. We’ve set up an Emergency Closure Relief Fund. We are grateful to our strong donor base who have (heroically) supported us in previous natural disasters (including the 2008 Basin Fire and 1998 El Nino Winter).
Q. Where do I go for ongoing Esalen updates?
A. Join us on Facebook for updates as they become available.
Q. What if my Esalen workshop is being hosted somewhere else?
A. When possible, some Esalen faculty have secured alternative locations for their workshops. Please consult with your workshop leader directly for more information.
Read more about conditions in Big Sur:
- NBC News — Big Sur Landslides Leave Small Canyon Town Stranded
- CNN — Landslide buries California's scenic highway in Big Sur
- TimeOut Los Angeles — How can you get to—and around—Big Sur right now?
- The Mercury News — Beleaguered Big Sur institutions turn to crowdfunding
- The Washington Post — Big Sur usually can’t keep people away. Right now, it’s practically deserted.
- The Tribune — Esalen Institute in Big Sur laying off employees as Hwy. 1 closure drags on
- KSBW.com — President's Day Storm leaves Highway 1 in Big Sur a mess
- The Guardian — Big Sur ravaged by floods, mudslides and storms: 'Paradise can turn on you'
- Monterey Herald — Caltrans to assess closed Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge in Big Sur
- Monterey County Weekly — UPDATE: Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge on Highway 1 closed to traffic until further notice
- Big Sur Kate — Possible Weather