Big Sur, California, is a breathtaking stretch of coastline along Highway One, nestled between Los Angeles and San Francisco. It’s renowned for its awe-inspiring campsites that offer a dreamlike experience. Camping in Big Sur means pitching your tent on cliffs overlooking the ocean, among towering redwood groves, beside peaceful streams, and under a canopy of stars and swirling galaxies.
Big Sur is arguably the most famous destination along Highway One, known for its natural beauty and diverse attractions. Besides its fame, it’s also one of the top spots for camping and hiking along the stunning California coastline.
In Big Sur, there are many camping choices to fit your preferences. You can stay in state parks, national forests, or private sites. These options include simple spots for tents and more comfy places like yurts and cabins. Just remember, you have to camp in specific areas, not along the roads like Highway 1 or Nacimiento-Fergusson Road.
Some campgrounds let you book online ahead of time, while others work on a first-come, first-served basis. The facilities, like bathrooms, showers, or hookups for water and electricity, can vary, so it’s smart to check what’s offered before you head out.
Lastly, it’s important to be kind to the wildlife, be careful with campfires, and follow the Leave No Trace rules to protect Big Sur’s natural beauty.
Discover Best Big Sur Camping Places:
Table of Contents
1. Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park
Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is a popular camping destination with 189 sites for tents and RVs, situated along the scenic Big Sur River. Each site comes with parking, a fire pit, and a picnic table. While the campground offers hot showers and toilets, it doesn’t provide RV hookups. Dogs are allowed but must be kept on a leash.
Booking a spot can be quite competitive; reservations often fill up six months in advance, even during the off-season. You can make reservations online or over the phone. However, if you’re planning a last-minute trip, be aware that you can’t reserve a site online or by phone within 48 hours of your intended arrival. That said, cancellations do happen, so there’s a chance you could snag a walk-up site.
2. Fernwood Resort
Fernwood Resort, located next to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, provides a variety of camping options. You can bring your own tent, stay in your RV with hookups, or opt for a more comfortable experience in a glamping tent, cabin, or motel room. All campsite options come with a picnic table and a fire ring, and some even offer water and electricity connections. Additionally, the resort offers amenities like hot showers, laundry facilities, and a convenient dishwashing station. Don’t forget to check out the unique albino redwood on the property.
If you’re planning ahead, Fernwood Resort accepts reservations up to a year in advance. However, keep in mind that cancellations can occasionally open up spots for last-minute arrivals. To inquire about day-of availability, you can reach out to the campground at 831-667-2422. When it’s time to dine, the Tavern on-site serves both lunch and dinner, providing indoor and outdoor seating options. For snacks, hot drinks, cold beverages, and more, visit the General Store and Espresso Cafe. Plus, if you’re up for some outdoor adventure, the Buzzards Roost trail in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is easily accessible from Fernwood Resort.
3. Riverside Campground & Cabins
Riverside Campground & Cabins boasts majestic redwoods that provide not only cool shade but also a generous dose of natural beauty. Alongside this, the property offers numerous modern conveniences. Each of the 34 campsites comes equipped with a picnic table and a fire pit. You’ll also find hot showers, laundry facilities, and well-maintained bathrooms conveniently located nearby. RV enthusiasts will appreciate the availability of electric and water hookups, though please note that there’s no sewer or dump station on-site.
For those traveling with furry companions, this dog-friendly campsite has added perks such as swimming, tubing, and catch-and-release fishing along the picturesque Big Sur River.
If you’re looking for a more luxurious overnight experience, consider booking one of the 12 cabins. Some of these cabins feature decks, outdoor fireplaces, and refrigerators, providing an upscale retreat in the heart of nature. Reservations for both campsites and cabins can be easily made online.
4. Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
Camping in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is a unique experience, but there are only two campsites available. The park is incredibly beautiful, with cliffs, waterfalls, and ocean views.
The campsites are basic, with just a fire ring, a picnic table, and pit toilets. They’re right off Highway 1, and you have to park your car and carry your gear to the site. Unfortunately, you can’t bring dogs.
To get one of these campsites, you need to plan ahead and book six months in advance because they fill up quickly.
5. Ponderosa Campground
Ponderosa Campground is nestled in the mountains along the Nacimiento River, offering ample chances for fishing and swimming. It’s also conveniently close to numerous hiking trails in the nearby Los Padres National Forest. At this campground, you’ll find some useful things. You can easily get to the river for fun in the water. There are picnic tables and fire rings with grills for cooking and eating outside. They have bathrooms and drinking water too, so you’ll have what you need for a comfy camping trip.
This campground is a bit secluded, about 14 miles away from the coast, making it a perfect spot for stargazing. If you’re lucky enough to have clear skies, be sure to make the most of it and enjoy the brilliant night sky.
6. Plaskett Creek Campground
Plaskett Creek Campground, situated in Los Padres National Forest, offers 44 campsites suitable for both tents and RVs. It’s conveniently located within walking distance of Sand Dollar Beach and the Willet hiking trail. Each campsite includes picnic tables, parking, and access to toilets and water.
If you’re in need of a campsite at the last minute, there are two sites available on a first-come, first-served basis. However, keep in mind that there are no guarantees, so it’s safer to reserve a site in advance to ensure you have a spot for your camping adventure.
7. Treebones Resort
Treebones Resort is famous for its comfy glamping yurts. They come with electricity, running water, comfy beds, and decks with ocean views. But if you prefer a simpler camping experience, you can book one of the sites where you bring your own tent. These sites have picnic tables and access to water, but please note that campfires and dogs are not allowed here. You can easily reserve your spot or yurt online, and every booking includes access to the resort’s amenities like the pool, hot tub, showers, and a buffet breakfast.
8. Ventana Campground
Ventana Campground is part of Ventana Big Sur Resort, but it’s separate. You can camp there in different ways—basic or fancier, like glamping.
The campground is in a lovely place among redwoods, about 2 miles from Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. You can only use tents here; no RVs or big vehicles.
There are places to eat and shop nearby, like cafes and stores. If you choose glamping, you don’t need to bring all your camping stuff. You sleep in a comfy tent cabin with a nice mattress. So, you have options for your camping style in a beautiful Big Sur setting.
9. Kirk Creek Campground
Kirk Creek Campground is situated on a picturesque oceanfront bluff within Los Padres National Forest, ensuring that each campsite boasts breathtaking views of the ocean. These sites offer awe-inspiring panoramas of rocky formations and sandy shores in the midst of a secluded wilderness paradise. Additionally, the campground’s location is conveniently close to Nacimiento Road, just across the highway. This road leads to a scenic overlook with a picnic area for visitors to enjoy.
The campground provides the following amenities: picnic tables, campfire rings equipped with grills, vault toilets, a scenic overlook, and direct access to a rocky beach.