15 Great Big Sur Camping Spots Adventurers Will Love

If you’re looking to have some camping fun in Southern California, then you’ll love the stunning area of Big Sur. This area is an extremely popular area for outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking, and camping. 

Close to the Pacific Ocean and the famous Pacific Coast Highway (Route 1), you can experience many sights and check out the many national parks that exist in this area of Southern California.

15 GREAT BIG SUR CAMPING SPOTS ADVENTURERS WILL LOVE
Big Sur

KIRK CREEK CAMPGROUND

Kirk Creek Campground is one of the most beautiful parts of the Los Padres National Forest. Considering its proximity to the Pacific Ocean, it shouldn’t surprise you that this campground offers stunning ocean views from every site. 

The Kirk Creek Campground is set on a bluff that hangs over the ocean, meaning that you’ll be able to see views you won’t find anywhere else. And if you’re looking for more than just ocean views, this campground also offers beautiful trails with scenic views as you enter the Los Padres National Forest.

Read More: 12 of the Absolute Best Things To Do in Big Sur

PFEIFFER BIG SUR STATE PARK

No list about camping in Big Sur would be complete without touching upon Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Pfeiffer is located on the western part of the Santa Lucia mountains, and it is one of the most popular parks in Big Sur.

You’ll be able to see alders, sycamores, conifers, famous redwoods, willows, cottonwoods, and many more types of trees. One of the main draws to this state park is Pfeiffer Falls — which can be viewed from a couple different trails. Of course, Pfeiffer hosts large campground sites, meaning that you can take your car or RV, and you can also bike around the area or hike.

15 Great Big Sur Camping Spots Adventurers Will Love

BIG SUR CAMPGROUND AND CABINS

For families who enjoy both camping and glamping, Big Sur Campground and Cabins offers forest-floor camping and rustic camping cabins – whichever lodging tickles your fancy is available here!

There are coastal redwood trees that line the location and the Big Sur River, and they also enforce quiet time from 10 pm to 8 am, meaning that you can listen to the sounds of nighttime wildlife without having to deal with other ambient noise.

The Big Sur campground and cabins also feature fun activities for the whole family: inner tubing or swimming in the river or taking picturesque hikes are the name of the game at this location.

VENTANA CAMPGROUND

Redwood trees are a must-see at the Ventana Campground. Ventana features 40 acres of beautiful redwood forestry. This campground strives to preserve the inherent beauty of nature, and as such, the build of this location follows the lines of the nearby mountains and river.

This campground is also a tent camp-only location, meaning that RVs and car campers are not applicable here. Yet, despite only allowing you to pitch a tent, you won’t be lacking in amenities. Ventana offers state-of-the-art bathhouses, and each site features a picnic table, fire rings, and amazing scenery.

LIMEKILN STATE PARK

Limekiln State Park is another location that is necessary to talk about when it comes to Big Sur camping. From this location, you’ll be able to see the stunning sights of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary – this is, of course, on top of the beautiful redwood trees and mountainous vistas that’ll be in your sightlines, as well.

This is a tent-only campsite, which means you must leave your car campers and RVs at home.

This state park is located right along the coast. However, it is also home to beautiful areas of peace and tranquility – such as the Santa Lucia mountains in the distance, the ocean views, and breathtaking waterfalls.

Read More: 15 Outstanding Things To Do in Carmel, California

ANDREW MOLERA STATE PARK

When it comes to Big Sur camping, you can’t get a much more natural experience than going to Andrew Molera State Park. This particular state park is purposefully underdeveloped, meaning that you’ll get to experience nature in its natural state of being.

If you want to wander along beaches, hike across hilltops, check out ocean-facing bluffs, or skip across meadows, this state park offers all of this to you. Just make sure that you are prepared for all weather types, as the weather here can go from the 30s-80s, depending on the season.

PLASKETT CREEK CAMPGROUND

If you’ve heard of Sand Dollar Beach, one of the most popular sand beaches in Southern California, you should start planning your trip to the Plaskett Creek Campground. This campground is a very popular vacation spot for Big Sur camping, and it’s located very close to Sand Dollar Beach.

Check out the beautiful cypress trees and Monterey pine at this campground — the scents are divine.

When it comes to activities, you can fish, surf, explore, sunbathe, or swim at the nearby Sand Dollar Beach. There are also hiking trails, although if you want to keep it simple, you can wander along the beach. Tent site camping is available at this location.

LOS PADRES NATIONAL FOREST

The Los Padres National Forest is a beautiful forest in Southern/Central California. It is home to numerous campsites/campgrounds and offers numerous recreational activities for you and your family to enjoy.

When it comes to nature, Los Padres National Forest delivers wonderful visages and hiking paths. Eleven different campgrounds feature options for RV camping recreational experiences or tent-only areas.

FERNWOOD CAMPGROUND AND RESORT

Fernwood Campground and Resort offers camping and glamping options, as well as activities that will let you play around in nature or go to the local tavern/restaurant/shopping area.

You’ll find a General Store onsite that’s full of camping supplies. You’ll be able to grab accessories for your RV camping experience or even sleeping bags, tents, cameras, and more from the shop! Grab your family and drive up there for an impromptu Big Sur camping experience.

In addition to RV and tent camping sites, you’ll also find forest cabins, adventure tents, tent cabins, and a motel.

Fernwood Campground and Resort has been around since 1932, and it has beautiful scenic views of the Big Sur Valley and Big Sur River. Have fun horseback riding, swimming at the nearby beaches or in the river, or kick back at the tavern to truly enhance your experience here.

JULIA PFEIFFER BURNS STATE PARK

As with most things in Big Sur, the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is close to Carmel. If you’d like to split your Big Sur camping experience between outdoor activities and less-nature-intensive fun in Carmel, this state park is a great choice. You can experience the beautiful sites of the state park before driving for about an hour to experience all that Carmel-by-the-Sea has to offer.

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park offers breathtaking sights that will have you scrambling for a camera. It spans across a large part of the Big Sur coastline – along Pfeiffer Beach – and it is home to stunningly-grown chaparral, madrone, tanoak, and redwood.

At Julia Pfeiffer, you can also experience hiking trails of varying difficulties. Some of them even overlook the famous Highway 1. Set your sights on stunning, panoramic views of the ocean in one direction and towering forests in another.

ARROYO SECO CAMPGROUND

The Los Padres National Forest is home to the Arroyo Seco Campground, as well. Arroyo Seco is one of the 11 campgrounds within the national forest.

This is one of the more rustic campgrounds in Big Sur, and specifically in the national forest, so you’d best leave your glamping-preferring family members at home for the trip. There are two lakes in the area, and the campground gets its name from the nearby Arroyo Seco River.

This campground features coin-operated showers and a barbeque pit for cooking your food, but few other amenities. There is no sewage dumping, electrical, or water attachments for your RV if you choose to bring it.

RIVERSIDE CAMPGROUND

When it comes to Big Sur camping, you can’t get more iconic than the Riverside Campground. Many people claim that this campground might actually be magical – although what they’re discussing is the sheer beauty of the surrounding foliage.

Additionally, the Riverside Campground is extremely close to the beach, and it also features hiking trails of varying difficulties. You can choose to have a more authentic camping experience or secure a cabin for the duration of your trip. Each cabin features queen-sized beds, and the campground has hot showers, laundry, and other modern amenities.

At Riverside, you’re also extremely close to Carmel-by-the-Sea. It is also close to a nearby town and the famous Riverside Roadhouse. You can spend your day camping and exploring nature and then returning to the “modern” world by seeking out storefronts, restaurants, playgrounds, and even a soccer field that lines the Susquehanna River.

PREWITT RIDGE

Prewitt Ridge is another of the official 11 campgrounds that make up the Los Padres National Forest. This campground sits above the coast, meaning that you’ll be able to see stunning, unforgettable sites of the ocean and experience the most that Big Sur has to offer.

Another for the “rustic camping” category, Prewitt Ridge doesn’t offer flush toilets or running water, and it’s very much a first-come-first-served sort of area. Be aware that you might need to have a 4-wheel-drive vehicle to reach this area, as it’s at the end of an extremely dusty and unpaved road.

On top of beautiful coastal sites, Prewitt Ridge will also treat you to some of the most beautiful sunset views that exist. So long as you prepare for the trip with food, firewood, a way to use the bathroom, and water, you’ll experience camping like never before.

A LITTLE FURTHER AFIELD (BUT EASIER TO GET)

HEARST SAN SIMEON STATE PARK

For the history enthusiasts out there, the Hearst San Simeon State Park is a dream come true. This is one of the oldest state parks in all of California, so you’ll feel like you’ve been transported back in time.

Being so close to the coast and the ocean, you can check out the iconic elephant seals at this location. Other animals may also make an appearance.

Home to the famous Hearst Castle, Hearst San Simeon State Park will allow you and your family to fish, kayak, swim, and otherwise enjoy water-borne experiences. You can make reservations months in advance or as near as two days ahead of your trip.

SYKES HOT SPRINGS CAMPGROUND

If you are looking to explore your love of nature while also getting to experience the relaxation away from the modern world, the Sykes Hot Springs Campground is calling your name. Although it exists at the end of a difficult hiking trail, reaching the hot springs will help wash all your worries away.

This campground is open year-round and that it’s very popular — so be prepared for crowds.

With its proximity to the Big Sur River and the stunning Ventana Wilderness, you will experience an unforgettable camping experience at the Sykes Hot Springs Campground. Just make sure to book well in advance.

BIG SUR CAMPING FAQ

Can I camp anywhere in Big Sur?

There are plenty of places to camp in Big Sur, from campgrounds that take reservations in advance with lots of activities, to first-come, first-serve campgrounds that have no amenities. No matter what you’re looking for, Big Sur is sure to have something perfect for you.

Can you camp in Big Sur without a reservation?

Yes, you can usually find a campsite in Big Sur without a reservation. Car camping on BLM land (Bureau of Land Management) is a great last-minute solution if you find yourself without a reservation.

Are there bears in Big Sur?

Yes, there can be black bears in Big Sur. It’s best to keep your food in your car or in a bear safe container when camping in Big Sur, although it’s not usually required.

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