One of the most popular places to camp in California is the beautiful area of Big Sur. This portion of the Golden State is found in central California and is where the Santa Lucia Mountains meet the Pacific Coast. The dramatic oceanside cliffs and the redwood forests are truly what draw travelers here. There are a number of state parks that dominate the camping scene in Big Sur. No matter if you want to pitch a tent, park your RV or rent a cabin, you’re sure to find your ideal spot at one of these top places to camp in Big Sur, California.
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Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park
This list kicks off with the largest campground in the Big Sur area, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, which has almost 200 campsites. Outdoor lovers of all kinds flock to this centrally-located state park in Big Sur. No matter if you’re camping in a tent, car or RV, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park has a site perfect for you. There are even cabins to rent or book a room at Big Sur Lodge found within the park, which has over 60 rooms. Hiking, biking and swimming are popular activities in this California state park. Open year-round, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is a popular option for those wanting to explore this great part of California, just make sure to book your campsite well in advance.
Andrew Molera State Park
Andrew Molera State Park is the largest state park in Big Sur, full of great hiking trails, scenic spots and even a beach too. Many visitors head here to hike the over 20 miles of hiking trails, however the Andrew Molera State Beach is also a popular attraction that regularly draws visitors as well. Although this state park is the biggest in the area, there are only 24 primitive walk-in tent sites, which offer a more secluded space than the largest campgrounds found on this list since the sites aren’t accessible for RVers and car campers. Although the camping here is limited, the campers at these sites are granted amenities like access to flush toilets, drinking water, a food locker, fire pit and picnic table.
Limekiln State Park
Experience the beauty of the redwood forest when you camp in this small state park located two miles from the town of Lucia. Spanning over 700 acres, Limekiln State Park is known for its forest views, 100-foot-tall waterfall, and historic lime kiln ruins. Limekiln State Park was once the location for a lime kiln operation from 1887 to 1890, and visitors can explore the lime kiln ruins found here. This state park is home to a modest 33 sites, which are either situated among the redwoods or boast a coastal view.
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
You don’t want to forget your camera when you visit this Big Sur state park, which features coastal cliff views that draw photographers and nature lovers from all around the country. McWay Falls, an 80-foot waterfall that leads to the sea, is a must-see while staying at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. Booking a campsite is tricky here since there are only two sites available in the entire park. However, it deserves a spot on this list because if you’re able to snag one of the spots here it is Big Sur camping at its finest.
You’ll want to book a campsite at Kirk Creek Campground well in advance since this campground is known as one of the most scenic sites in the Big Sur area. If you’re truly dreaming of camping along a cliff that offers coastal views, then this campground is for you. The one downside of camping at Kirk Creek Campground, which has 35 sites, is that there is no electricity for RVs and only vault toilets are available. However, what it lacks in amenities, it makes up for in natural beauty.
For campers who want glamping options and an on-site restaurant, Fernwood Campground and Resort is an ideal camping option. In addition to tent and RV sites, Fernwood rents out cabins and glamping tents as well. No matter what kind of camping experience you choose here, all campers will have access to a hot shower and laundry facilities too. Fernwood is a popular option for travelers wanting to visit Pfeiffer Beach.
Set up your tent in a scenic forest site at Ventana Campground. These tent-only campsites are great for backpackers but also can host camper vans too. Near Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, Ventana is a great option for those wanting a more secluded stay than the massive campground found at Pfeiffer Big Sur. Ventana Campground also has glamping sites available as well as a camp store and bath houses too.
Sykes Hot Springs
You can camp near one of California’s most popular hot springs, which just so happens to be in the Big Sur area. Sykes Hot Springs is home to seven established campsites, however, the sites are only accessible for backpackers. The hike to Sykes Hot Springs is about 10 miles, however, a soak in the 100-degree natural spring pool is well worth the effort. Since the hot spring is a must-visit for many in the area, hit the trail early during the weekends or choose to hike during the week to avoid crowds and to snag a campsite.