15 GREAT BIG SUR CAMPING SPOTS ADVENTURERS WILL LOVE

If you’re looking to have some camping fun in Southern California, look no further than the stunning area of Big Sur. This area is an extremely popular area for outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking, and camping. 

Big Sur is located on the coast between two other famous cities (Carmel and San Simeon), and it’s considered a beautiful spot for additional reasons as well. 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 the area.

Read on to learn about many of the beautiful things and activities you can experience when it comes to Big Sur camping in 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.

When it comes to Big Sur camping, you can’t beat Kirk Creek. Just make sure you book a reservation for the campground a few days in advance to secure your spot.

Details: CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920 | Website

PFEIFFER BIG SUR STATE PARK

No list about Big Sur camping 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. 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.

And if you’re not excited by the idea of “camping,” Pfeiffer is also home to the Big Sur Lodge. For all those glamping enthusiasts out there, this place can accommodate you, too. 

Details: Pfeiffer Big Sur Rd, Big Sur, CA 93920 | Website

15 GREAT BIG SUR CAMPING SPOTS ADVENTURERS WILL LOVE

BIG SUR CAMPGROUND AND CABINS

Another to entice those families who enjoy both camping and glamping, this cabin and campground offer forest-floor camping and rustic camping cabins – whichever lodging tickles your fancy is available here!

Experience a trip that’ll make you feel as if you’re one with nature. 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!

Details: 47000 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920 | Website

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.

If this sounds like too much nature for you, not to worry. Ventana is also located close to grocery stores, restaurants, stores, delis, taverns, etc. in the Big Sur area. And if you can’t find what you’re looking for there, you’ll only be 30 miles south of Carmel.

Details: 48123 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920 | Website

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. Limekiln is located slightly under 60 miles from Carmel, meaning that it’s about an hour away if you want to check out that beautiful city.

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.

Details: 63025 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920 | Website

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 through 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.

Alternatively, if you want to spice up the experience of your outing, you can check out Carmel (fully titled Carmel-by-the-Sea), which is only 20 miles away. Carmel is a very famous city that offers loads of amenities and attractions.

Details: 45500 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920 | Website

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.

If you’re not interested in ocean views or water, you can focus on the nearby arena of plants that make up this campground. Check out the beautiful cypress trees and Monterey pine – with every inhale, infuse your being with the beautiful scents of this forest.

When it comes to activities, you can fish, surf, explore, sunbathe, or even 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.

Details:  69345 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920 | Website

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. If the hiking paths don’t excite you very much, 11 different campgrounds feature options for RV camping recreational experiences or tent-only areas.

If you want any additional information, don’t hesitate to ask questions at the National Forest’s Supervisor’s Office and/or nearby ranger stations to get any answers you desire. They can help you find the best paths and campgrounds for you and your family to enjoy when you reach this area.

Details: 6750 Navigator Dr, Goleta, CA 93117 | Website

FERNWOOD CAMPGROUND AND RESORT

Another that is here to cover all the family members – whether they prefer camping or glamping – is the Fernwood Campground and Resort, which offers activities that will let you play around in nature or go to the local tavern/restaurant/shopping area.

This campground allows for last-minute trips, considering it’s home to a camping supply store. 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.

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.

Details: 47200 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920 | Book Now

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.

Details: 52801 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920 | Website

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.

If you’re looking to get a near-true-to-life camping experience, this is the campground to check out. It features coin-operated showers and a barbeque pit for your food, but few other amenities. There is no sewage dumping, electrical, or water attachments for your RV if you choose to bring it.

Details: 47600 Arroyo Seco Rd, Greenfield, CA 93927 | Website

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.

Details: 47020 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920 | Website

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.

Details: Big Sur, CA 93920 | Website

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, meaning that when you come to visit, 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, meaning that you can check out all that the nature of the location has to offer. 

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.

Details: 500 San Simeon-Monterey Creek Rd, Cambria, CA 93428 | Website

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.

Back in 2017, the campground was closed – cited “indefinitely” – but as of April 2021, it’s partially reopened. You can now go back to the Sykes Campground and enjoy the beautiful naturally-made hot springs. Realize that this campground is open year-round and that it’s very popular, meaning that you might see lots of people during your stay.

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.

Details: River Trail, Big Sur, CA 93920 | Website

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