Camping in Big Sur is an unbelievable experience. And If you’re looking for a truly unique camping experience, B than you can’t do better than Big Sur. With its stunning coastal views. And diverse array of campgrounds and backcountry site. There’s something for everyone in this beautiful part of California. With beautiful trials that rival some of the best hiking in San Diego.
In this complete guide to camping in Big Sur, we’ll cover everything you need to know to make the most of your trip. Including the best time of year to go, what kind of gear to bring, and where to find the most scenic spots. So whether you’re a first-time camper.
Or an experienced outdoorsman, read on for all the tips and tricks you need to enjoy a memorable camping trip in Big Sur.
Camping in Big Sur | Everything You Need to Know
Where is Big Sur
Big Sur is a rugged section of the Central Coast of California that stretches for approximately 90 miles. It is between San Simeon and Carmel-by-the-Sea and is one of the most beautiful coastal regions in the world. The area is home to the Los Padres National Forest and features towering cliffs, lush forest landscapes, and winding rivers.
Visitors come to Big Sur to enjoy its natural beauty, including its many hiking trails and scenic overlooks. While there are no official boundaries for Big Sur, we accept it extends from San Simeon in the north to Carmel-by-the-Sea in the south. And it is one of the best national parks in America. Right up there with the best National Park in Hawaii.
How many State Parks Make Up Big Sur
Big Sur is a stunning wilderness, a place where you can hike through redwoods, camp under the stars, and swim in freshwater creeks. It’s also home to some of California’s most spectacular natural wonders: towering redwood trees and deep canyons carved by rivers.
Big Sur is a region known for its rugged beauty and its natural setting. The 6 state parks that makeup Big Sur one of the best national parks in the United States.
The 6 state parks that makeup Big Sur one of the best national parks in the United States.
- Gaviota State Park
- Pfeiffer Beach (One of the best beaches in California)
- Point Lobos State Reserve
- Julian Price Memorial State Recreation Area
- Monterey County Parks Department
When to Go Camping in Big Sur
Big Sur is a year-round destination, but the best time to camp is from May to September when the weather is warm and dry. October and November can also be pleasant months for camping, but be aware that the risk of wildfires increases during this time of year. December through April is the rainy season in Big Sur.
So if you don’t mind getting wet, this can be a great time to find deals on campsites and enjoy the quieter side of the park. But no matter when you go, always check the weather forecast in advance and be prepared for changes in conditions.
Best Time to Go Camping in Big Sur
The best time to go camping in Big Sur depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re after scenic views and mild weather, spring and fall are ideal times to visit. However, if you don’t mind braving the crowds and you’re hoping to glimpse some of the area’s wildlife, summer is also a great time to go.
Is Camping Free in Big Sur
Yes, there is free camping in Big Sur! Camping is one of the best ways to experience all that this majestic region offers.
There are several free campsites throughout Big Sur, as well as in the nearby Los Padres National Forest.
Whether you’re looking for a remote and rustic experience or something a little more developed, there’s sure to be a perfect spot for you. Just be sure to get a permit before setting up camp and follow all. Leave No Trace principles to help keep this special place clean and beautiful. Camping is a great alternative for Airbnb.
Do I need to Make Resversations for camping in Big Sur
The good news is that reservations are not required at all campsites in Big Sur. However, it is always a good idea to make a reservation for any first-come-first-serve campground. This will ensure that you get the site you want and avoid having to wait until after dark to set up your tent or RV.
There are four campgrounds in Big Sur with first-come-first-serve sites. These are Pfeiffer Falls and Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park; Limekiln State Park and Andrew Molera State Park.
All other campgrounds require reservations. Including: Garrapata Beach Campground, Kirk Creek Campground, Kirk Creek Group Campground.
As well as, Pico Blanco Campground (no RVs), Salmon Creek Beach (no RVs), Sunset Campground, Sykes Hot Springs Campground
The Best Big Sur Campgrounds
Big Sur is a beautiful place to camp. And there is no shortage of options from Big Sur Lodge to RV camping, to setting up your trail camp. The views are spectacular, and the hiking trails are amazing. If you’re looking for a place to camp in Big Sur, here are the best Big Sur campgrounds to check out when you visit. So if you are wondering about Big Sur Camping, stop. Because we got you covered.
Ragged Point Campground
The Ragged Point Campground is at the end of Highway 1 and offers magnificent views of the ocean and nearby cliffs.
You can also hike up to Pfeiffer Falls or take a simple walk along the beach at nearby Point Lobos State Reserve. This campground offers a variety of amenities, including fresh water, restrooms, fire rings, and picnic tables. There’s even Wi-Fi available!
Deetjen Beach State Park
This park is located just north of Carmel Valley, along Highway 1. It features an ocean-side beach, picnic areas, and lots of amenities for both campers and day visitors alike.
Angeles National Forest
The Angeles National Forest offers tons of activities for visitors who want to enjoy nature. But without leaving their favorite campsite. There are plenty of trails to explore or even just relax on one of their many beaches.
Big Basin Redwoods State Park
Big Basin is located just south of San Simeon, this park offers camping sites with gorgeous views along its coastline. And redwood forests surrounding them. There are also plenty of hiking options available if you want to get away from your campsite.
Andrew Molera state park
Andrew Molera State Park is a beautiful place to go camping. The park is in Big Sur and has many activities that you can do. You can find many hiking trails, beaches, and even campgrounds. In addition, you can also visit the famous Ventana Wilderness and walk along the Pacific Coast Trail.
Another prominent feature of Andrew Molera State Park is its proximity to the city of Big Sur itself! This means that if you want to do some shopping or visit some restaurants in town, then all you have to do is drive out of the park for just a few minutes!
In addition, there are plenty of other things to do, such as hiking trails and scenic drives around the area where you can stop at.
Limekiln State Park
Limekiln State Park campground is a brilliant spot to camp.
The park has three main hiking trails, each with its unique features. The Limekiln Trail is a 7-mile round trip that begins at the park entrance and ends at the lime kilns. It’s an easy hike with little elevation gain.
The Old Mill Trail is an easy 1/3 of a mile loop that takes you through a forested area and around an old mill site. The Live Oak Trail is an intermediate 2-mile round trip that takes you up a steep hillside covered with live oaks and other native plants.
There are several campsites available on the north end of the park, near the entrance. There is also a picnic area with tables, grills, and restrooms.
Some sites have water access, but be sure to bring your drinking water. Because there are no drinking fountains available at any of the campsites or picnic areas. They do not provide firewood at any of the campsites either, so please bring your firewood if you plan to use one of these sites for camping!
Ventana Campground is a backcountry campground in the Ventana Wilderness of Big Sur. The campground is open year-round and can accommodate up to 30 people per night.
You must have a permit to camp here, which can be got from the Los Padres National Forest or State Parks offices. Ventana Big Sur is a popular place to camp in Northern California.
Ventana Campground is at 1,700 feet elevation on the north side of the Big Sur River near Sykes Hot Springs and is accessible by trail only. There are no facilities at this site. It’s recommended that you bring all your water and firewood.
Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground
Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground is in the Pfeiffer State Park, which is on the Central Coast of California. The campground offers tent camping sites, RV hookup sites, and yurts.
The campground is along the Big Sur River, which runs right through the park. Many hiking trails lead to spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. These trails also offer access to waterfalls and swimming holes.
You can also enjoy fishing at Lake Cachuma. It is not as grand of Lake Louise in Canada. Or check out one of the many nearby attractions like Hearst Castle, Pinnacles National Park, and Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Kirk Creek Campground
Kirk Creek Campground is a beautiful and secluded campground with 24 sites that are first come, first served.
The campground is along the Big Sur River in Big Sur National Park. It’s a great place to relax and enjoy nature, but it gets crowded during the summer months. There is no potable water at Kirk Creek, so you’ll need to bring your drinking water.
The best part about Kirk Creek Campground is its proximity to other amazing destinations in Big Sur
Fernwood Resort & Campground
Fernwood Resort & Campground is in a redwood forest at the base of the Santa Lucia Mountains. And just a few miles from Big Sur’s famous Pacific Coast Highway. Fernwood is one of the last remaining private campgrounds in Big Sur. It provides a unique opportunity to experience this magical place without crowds or the noise of generators.
Campers can choose from over 100 campsites: RV, tent, or cabin. Each site has its picnic table, fire ring, and food storage locker. There are also hot showers, flush toilets, and coin laundry facilities available onsite.
Fernwood Resort offers many amenities such as a swimming pool with hot tubs, and children’s playgrounds. There are also pet-friendly cabins and RV sites. Guests can enjoy hiking trails through our redwoods or relax by watching wildlife from their campsite or cabin porch. Fernwood campground is one of the best places to go camping in Big Sur.
Plaskett Creek Campground
Plaskett Creek Campground is near the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and offers a full grocery store, restaurant, and swimming pool. We stayed in a tent cabin and found it comfortable with our private bathroom. There is also an RV section for those who wish to camp in their vehicle.
The campground has plenty of activities to keep you busy if you do not want to leave the property. Our favorite activity was hiking up to the waterfall, which took about 20 minutes each way.
The water was icy but refreshing after sweating on the hike! Several trails lead down to the beach, which we explored as well. We enjoyed walking along the beach, collecting shells and walking along the shoreline.
Riverside Campground is a great place to stay in Big Sur. It’s on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and it has views of the Santa Lucia Mountains and Mount Tamalpais.
This campground is near Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, which has hiking trails, swimming holes, and scenic overlooks. You can also visit McWay Falls, which is just down the road from this campground.
Riverside Campground has 25 campsites available for tent camping only. Sites are first-come, first-served, and are available limitedly.
Each site has a fire ring with a grill, picnic table, and food locker. There are restrooms with showers nearby. A dump station is available at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park (about one mile away). Plus camping anywhere makes it one of the cheapest places to visit in the USA..
Best Things to do When Camping in Big Sur
There are some amazing things to do in Big Sur. And you can plan a trip with Google Maps to get the most out of your journey.
Visit Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
This state park is one of the most popular things to do in Big Sur. Why? Well, it has a lot to offer! Big Sur incredible coastal views to hikes through old-growth redwoods. There’s something for everyone at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.
If you’re looking for a challenge, try hiking to the top of McWay Falls. This 80-foot waterfall is one of the most beautiful things in the park (and definitely worth the hike!). If you’re not up for a hike, don’t worry – there are plenty of other great things to see and do at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.
So, what are you waiting for? Add this state park to your list of things to do in Big Sur.
Drive along Highway 1
Big Sur is an incredibly beautiful drive, and even though it’s not a long distance from San Francisco, it feels like a different world. The road hugs the coastline for most of its length and there are many stops along the way to see spectacular views.
Besides coastlines and beaches, you’ll also see redwoods. The tallest trees in the world and large boulders. The road itself is narrow. And winding as it winds through coastal forest. As well as California’s famous rocky coastline. The first part of the drive takes you through redwood forests that are home to several species of animals, including bears, wolves, and foxes. You’ll see huge Douglas firs towering over you as well as other types of trees like oaks, cedars, and pines.
The road continues along the coast with occasional glimpses of the Pacific Ocean on your right side. Until suddenly you come upon Carmel-by-the-Sea. Where there are hundreds of restaurants serving local seafood dishes such as mussels marinara or clam chowder
Hike to McWay Falls
McWay Falls is a short walk from the parking area. You will walk downstairs to a paved path that leads through a tunnel, and the path meanders to McWay Falls.
McWay Falls is a popular destination for both locals and tourists alike. The waterfall is not too large and there are plenty of places to stop and take in the views. There are also some benches along the way where you can rest before or after your visit.
If you’re looking for something more challenging, there is a swimming hole at McWay Falls. Those who have tried it out have described as “incredibly refreshing” that!
Sand Dollar Beach
The first time I visited Sand Dollar Beach in Big Sur National Park it was amazing. Sand dollar-shaped rocks that line the shore mesmerized me. It’s a sight to behold!
Sand Dollar Beach is at Pfeiffer Beach, which is just south of Big Sur along Highway 1. You can’t miss it – look for the sand dollar-shaped rocks lining the shoreline. We also known this beach as Sand Dollar Rock Beach and Pfeiffer Beach.
The beach is only accessible by hiking down from Highway 1 or by kayaking it from Carmel Bay. The trailhead starts at Mile Marker 3. And descends about 700 feet down to reach the beach (you’ll know you’re there when you see those beautiful sand dollar-shaped rocks). It takes an hour to hike down, but once you’re there, you won’t want to leave!
Big Sur River
Big Sur River is a tributary of the Carmel River in Monterey County, California.
The Big Sur River begins at the confluence of Pine Creek and Ventana Creek in the Ventana Wilderness, in the Los Padres National Forest. It flows south through a steep canyon in Los Padres National Forest. And then enters Pfeiffer State Park. The river then flows through private land owned by the Hearst family. Before continuing southeast through Big Sur Valley to join the Carmel River near Lucia. The Big Sur river gorge is one of the best things to do in Big Sur.
Hike in Plaskett Creek
Plaskett Creek is a small, secluded beach on the Pacific coast. It’s in the heart of Big Sur National Park, just north of Pfeiffer Beach. The beach is tucked away in a cove between two rocky headlands, which makes it an ideal place for swimming and sunbathing.
You can access the beach via a 5-minute hike down from the campground. The well-maintained trail follows Plaskett Creek as it winds through the forest. And offers views of the creek itself (which has no water). The trail ends at a picnic table where you can relax. Or take pictures before continuing on another 5 minutes to reach the beach.
At low tide, Plaskett Creek is wide enough for several people to sit side-by-side along its shoreline. But at high tide waves crash against rocks on both sides of the beach. Making it impossible to walk around without getting wet feet. it reminds me of some of the best beaches in Europe.
Point Sur Lighthouse
Point Sur Lighthouse is in the Big Sur region of California. This historic structure was built in 1875 and is located just south of Monterey. The lighthouse overlooks the rugged coastline, where the Pacific Ocean meets the Santa Lucia Mountains on the Big Sur coast.
They added the Point Sur Light Station to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. They also listed it on the State and National Registers of Historic Landmarks. Today, this historic landmark still functions as a working lighthouse and museum.
Hike Pfeiffer Falls Trail
The best hiking trail in Big Sur is the Pfeiffer Falls Trail. This trail is at the Big Sur Station, which is about 3 miles south of the Big Sur River Bridge. It’s a great place to hike with your family and friends.
The trail takes you to Pfeiffer Falls, which is at the end of a mile-long trail that runs alongside the Big Sur River. Water cascading down over rocks and boulders is a beautiful sight at the falls. The trail also passes through redwoods and lush forests that provide shade from the sun throughout most of the day.
Pfeiffer Falls is near some other popular places in Big Sur, such as McWay Falls and Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. These locations make it easy for you to spend an entire day exploring the area without having to travel too far from one location to another.
And there we go! Everything you need to know about camping trip in Big Sur! Which California State Park will you camp at first!
So if you are bored, or just waiting for how long it takes to get your passport. Go camping in Big Sur.