Getting to Tassajara can be viewed as a two-part process: first, getting to Jamesburg, then getting into Tassajara. Located at 39171 Tassajara Road, Carmel Valley, CA 93924, Jamesburg is one's last taste of the outside world and coincidentally, the end of the paved part of the Tassajara Road.
While Jamesburg may not look like much on the map, it is a great place to stop for a break, for news about Tassajara, the road conditions, and to coordinate with other guests. From Jamesburg, guests can meet the Stage, carpool/rideshare in, hike in or continue driving into Tassajara. There are no convenience stores or gas stations in Jamesburg.
Part 1: Getting to Jamesburg
The closest airports are Monterey (2 hrs.), San Jose (3-4 hrs.), and San Francisco (4-5 hrs.). Please allow ample time for travel and Stage connections into Tassajara.
Tassajara Zen Mountain Center is accessible only from Tassajara Road. Tassajara Road is paved until Jamesburg, located at 39171 Tassajara Road, Carmel Valley, CA 93924. From Jamesburg, take the Stage (see below) or continue driving into Tassajara.
Traveling from North of Tassajara
First Option (longer but less complicated)
Take Hwy 101 South and take the Hwy 156/Monterey Peninsula exit at Prunedale. Follow Hwy 156 to Hwy 1 South. From Hwy 1, turn left at Carmel Valley Road. From Carmel Valley Road, after approximately 23 miles, turn right onto Tassajara Road. Follow Tassajara Road for approximately 3 miles to arrive at Jamesburg.
Second Option (shorter but requires taking local roads through Salinas)
Take Hwy 101 South and exit at North Main Street/California 183. Continue on N Main Street, then continue straight onto Salinas Street. Turn left on John Street, and then take the first right onto CA-68 W/S Main St. After approximately 10 miles, turn left onto G20 (Laureles Grade) and stay on Laureles Grade for approximately 6 miles until Carmel Valley Road. Turn left onto Carmel Valley Road, and after approximately 14 miles, turn right on Tassajara Road. Follow Tassajara Road for approximately 3 miles to arrive at Jamesburg.
Traveling from South of Tassajara
Take Hwy 101 north to Greenfield. Turn left onto G16 (Elm Avenue). Turn left at E. Carmel Valley Rd/G16/Jamesburg-Arroyo Seco Rd., go about 29 miles to Tassajara Road on the left. Turn left onto Tassajara Road, and follow it for approximately 3 miles to arrive at Jamesburg.
By Public Transportation
Getting to Jamesburg via public transportation requires special coordination as there is no public transit service that goes directly to Tassajara.
There are many public transit options to the nearby towns of Monterey and Carmel Valley (still over an hour away) from San Francisco, Oakland, or Salinas, and some routes are detailed below. From there, guests must connect with another guest using our Rideshare Board.
From Oakland to Salinas, by Train: There is an Amtrak train that goes from Oakland to Salinas with a bus connection to Monterey.
From San Francisco to Salinas, by Train: There are several Amtrak coaches from San Francisco to Salinas. Each of these options arrive at the Amtrak Station in Salinas and leaves just a short walk to the Salinas Transit Center. (The latest that allows enough time to connect with the “Town Trip” leaves the Ferry Building at 10:05am)
From the Bay Area to Salinas, by Bus: There is one Greyhound Bus service available from the Bay Area to Salinas: from SF at 6:30am, Oakland at 7am, and San Jose at 7:30am.
From Salinas to Monterey, by Bus: The MST Line 20 leaves from the Salinas Transit Center every half-hour and arrives at the Monterey Transit Plaza after approximately 50 minutes of travel. The 1:15 bus is the last bus that will allow enough time to meet up with the town-trip. However, this gives only a 10-minute grace period to catch the Line 24 to Carmel Rancho (if meeting the town-trip).
From SFO or SJC to Monterey, by Bus: The simplest and most convenient way to get to Monterey is to take the Monterey Shuttle from San Francisco Airport to the Monterey Transit Plaza ($40). There are several services daily. Book a seat at www.montereyshuttle.com or (831)373-7777.
From the Monterey Airport to the Monterey Transit Plaza, by Bus: If you fly into the Monterey Airport or drop off a rental car there, you may take the DART minibus to the Transit Plaza. This is a custom service which you must call at least one hour before you wish to leave the airport: 1-866-663-3278.
From Monterey to Carmel Rancho and Carmel Valley, by Bus: The MST Line 24 (Carmel Valley Grapevine Express) departs from the Monterey Transit Plaza once an hour and goes into Carmel Valley. It takes 20 minutes to get to Carmel Rancho, 30 minutes to Mid-Valley, and 40 minutes to Carmel Valley.
Amtrak www.amtrak.com 1-800-872-7245
Greyhound www.greyhound.com 1-800-231-2222
Monterey Shuttle www.montereyairbus.com 1-831-373-7777
Monterey Salinas Transit mst.org 1-888-678-2871
Monterey Hostel www.montereyhostel.org 1-831-649-0375 (if you get stuck overnight)
Part 2: Getting into Tassajara
- The last 14 miles of the journey to Tassajara consists of a winding dirt road with sheer drop-offs and a steep, narrow descent over the last five miles.
- Cars with automatic transmission must be equipped with manual low gear in order to be safe and avoid overheating the brakes. Those who drive SUVs should activate four-wheel drive, and all drivers should travel at 15 mph or less (slower on the steeper portions). Four-wheel-drive or standard transmission is recommended. It is important to have a vehicle which has relatively high clearance in order to navigate the rough terrain.
- It is important to observe the following precautions on this road:
- Make sure your car is in good working order, paying special attention to brakes, fuel, and cooling system. Fuel and repair services are not available at Tassajara or Jamesburg. The last gas stations are at Carmel Valley and Greenfield.
- Travel during the cooler hours of the day if possible to avoid overheating the engine.
- As one begins the descent over the last five miles, shift into the lowest possible gear and PUMP the brakes as needed. DO NOT apply steady pressure to the brakes or they will overheat.
- If the brakes begin to overheat or feel mushy, pull over immediately and allow them to cool for at least 20 minutes before continuing.
While getting to Tassajara is challenging, visitors may take comfort knowing that their fellow sojourners are in the same boat. Many guests and students who make the trek every year are happy to car-share, and may even be starting their trip nearby.
Sharing the ride can be a great way to make lasting friendships and ease the burden of a long and bumpy trip. Please check the Rideshare Board (rideshare.sfzc.org) for rides offered and needed and connect with another traveler on their way to Tassajara.
Taking the Stage
If coordinating a ride with others is not possible, consider taking the Stage (available to overnight guests only), a seven-passenger, 4-wheel drive vehicle.
The Stage leaves from Jamesburg, a convenient and safe parking location, where the paved part of Tassajara Road ends. The Tassajara-bound Stage departs Jamesburg at 10:30am daily and requires advance reservations, confirmation of one's seat, and prompt arrival. The round trip fare is $63 per person and cancellation fees apply.
The Stage out of Tassajara typically departs at 3pm, but day-of departure time is at Tassajara’s discretion and is confirmed on-site. During periods of high demand, Tassajara may also offer an afternoon Stage, boarding at 1:15pm. Guests cannot reserve a specific time for the return trip when they book their reservation; it will be confirmed on the morning of departure.
For those planning to hike into Tassajara, please understand that the hike will be long and strenuous. The simplest way is to come in from Jamesburg along the 14-mile dirt road that travels up and over a mountain pass, then begins a long descent into Tassajara. This may take most of the day so be sure to leave early enough for check-in. There are limited campgrounds along the way and they often have no vacancy during the summer months. Be cautious of wildlife, and vehicles traveling the road. Bring enough food, water, and medical supplies in case of emergency. There are many trails throughout the Ventana Wilderness, and it is possible to hike in from other directions such as Big Sur. Know that these routes may take multiple days and can be very dangerous. Tassajara requests all visitors to know their limits and be prepared!