The 11 Best Campgrounds in Big Sur

Woman using tablet computer while sitting at campsite against sky

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A wild stretch of California coastline tucked between ocean and mountains, Big Sur is any camper’s dream destination. This section of the Golden State is known for its towering redwood forests and rugged natural beauty, making it one of the most popular camping destinations on the West Coast and the perfect place to unplug from everyday life.

There are a few options for Big Sur camping, from state parts to private campgrounds (and even glamping). According to the Big Sur Chamber of Commerce, camping on the side of the road along Highway 1 is illegal, and there are several signs posted affirming this in the area. The same goes for Nacimiento-Ferguson Road, which was previously a popular spot for visitors to score free camping. Most campsites sell out months in advance, so you should start checking online for reservations six months in advance if you have a specific date in mind. 

Even if you have your heart set on areas that don’t offer reservations for campsites, have a backup plan just in case. 

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Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park Campground

Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground

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Address
Pfeiffer Big Sur Rd, Big Sur, CA 93920, USA
Phone +1 831-667-1112

Even with 189 RV and tent sites, coveted spots inside Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park can (and will) fill up six months in advance, no matter what time of year. There’s a good reason why, since this campground offers everything you could ever want in a California coastal location: Stunning mountain views, proximity to the beach, and several hiking trails to choose from within walking distance from camp.

Throughout the campground, Pfeiffer Big Sur offers hot showers (token-operated), water, and toilets. While there is a dump station with potable water, RVers should note that hookups are unavailable. Reserve your camping spot as early as you can at ReserveCalifornia or by calling toll-free at 1-800-444-7275. When the campground is full, en route camping may be available if your vehicle has an onboard flush toilet.

02 of 11

Andrew Molera State Park

Andrew Molera State Park near Big Sur

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Address
45500 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920-9693, USA
Phone +1 831-667-2315

A little rougher than Pfeiffer, nearby Andrew Molera State Park offers a primitive, hike-in campground, about a quarter-mile from a parking lot. Located in an open meadow near the Big Sur River, Trail Camp features 22 standard tent sites and two hike-and-bike sites. There aren’t any showers, but facilities come with toilets and drinking water available. Be aware that there is a maximum of four people allowed in one campsite at a time, and sites can be booked from 48 hours to six months in advance. You can reserve your site online at ReserveCalifornia or toll-free at 1-800-444-7275; standard campsites are $30 a night.

03 of 11

Big Sur Campground & Cabins

Address
47000 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920, USA
Phone +1 831-667-2322

Big Sur Campground & Cabins is one of the most popular options for those traveling with families. A bit pricier than state park camping, this privately-owned spot next to the Big Sur River has both campsites and RV sites with hookups. It also includes clean bathrooms with hot water showers, laundry facilities, river tubing rentals, and a little store to buy snacks and coffee (as well as the usual firewood and bags of ice). For those looking for something cozier, Big Sur Campground & Cabins offers cabins with fireplaces and kitchens, too. A large playground in the middle of the property makes this place perfect for children.

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Fernwood Resort

Address
47200 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920-9542, USA
Phone +1 831-667-2422

Guests at Fernwood Resort have their pick between a variety of accommodations. While they offer classic tent camping, you can also opt to stay in a forest or tent cabin, motel, or the glamping-style "Adventure Tent." RV hookups are available as well. The adjoining restaurant and tavern are local hangouts for Big Sur’s few full-time residents, and there is also a general store stocked with essentials and camping supplies. Reservations can be made online, but for groups, you'll need to call Fernwood directly at 831-667-2422.

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Kirk Creek Campground

Kirk Creek Campground beach

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Address
CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920, USA
Phone +1 805-434-1996

Beachside camping doesn’t get any better than at Kirk Creek Campground, which boasts ocean views from each of its 40 tent and RV campsites. Located in Los Padres National Forest, the sites sit on a bluff overlooking the Pacific at about 100 feet high. While there is a rocky beach below, it's worth a short 5-mile drive from the campground to visit the large stretch of sand at Sand Dollar Beach. When planning your trip, bear in mind that showers, water, and utility hookups are not provided, and the nearest dump station is 40 miles away. There are, however, accessible pit toilets.

There are two campsites available on a first-come, first-served basis, but it's recommended that you reserve one of the other 38 sites at Recreation.gov or by calling 1-877-444-6777; note that these need to be booked at least three days in advance of your trip.

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Limekiln State Park Campground

Limekiln State Campground Region

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Address
63025 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920, USA
Phone +1 805-434-1996

On the very south end of Big Sur, Limekiln State Park offers 29 sites for tent camping and RVing, with both restrooms and showers available. A number of campsites at Limekiln have ocean views, though the other sites are still stunning with a grove of redwood trees and a year-round creek nearby. Be sure to check out the 1.4-mile trail to the waterfall if you’re up for a moderate hike here. Like most state parks, reservations are available six months ahead of time and sell out fast. Reserve your camping spot as early as you can at ReserveCalifornia.

07 of 11

Plaskett Creek Campground

Address
69345 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920-9612, USA
Phone +1 805-434-1996

Located within a five-minute walk of Sand Dollar Beach, Plaskett Creek is a U.S. Forest Service campground inside Los Padres National Forest. There are more than 40 family sites available for tent and RV camping in this park-like setting, as well as flush toilets and sinks throughout the campground. However, due to the water shortage in California, there is currently no running water at Plaskett Creek; campers are advised to bring their own hand sanitizer, bottled water, and wipes. You can reserve a spot at Recreation.gov.

08 of 11

Riverside Campground and Cabins

Address
47020 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920, USA
Phone +1 831-667-2414

This 16-acre, privately-owned campground sits next to the Big Sur River, just 22 miles south of Carmel-By-The-Sea. They offer 11 cabins, 22 tent sites, and 12 RV sites, with water hook-ups and 20-amp electricity provided at each of the latter. Facilities here include restrooms, hot showers, laundry, and a camp store where you can stock up on groceries and camping supplies. As Riverside does not have sewer hookups or a dump station, RVers should be sure to dump their tanks prior to arrival,

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09 of 11

Treebones Resort

Treebones Resort

Courtesy of Treebones Resort

Address
71895 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920-9573, USA
Phone +1 805-927-2390

If you want to glamp, look no further than Treebones Resort. Each of their six yurts comes with a king-sized bed, sink vanity with running water, sitting area, linen, and a redwood deck outfitted with Adirondack chairs for optimal ocean viewing. For an even more luxurious experience, book one of the two off-grid Autonomous Tent Collection units. Powered by solar panels, both "tents" boast 600 square feet of indoor space outfitted with bamboo flooring, eco-sensitive lighting, soft leather chairs, and an en-suite bathroom with a walk-in shower and vanity. The resort also has ocean-view, walk-in campsites where you can pitch your tent—or rent one of their huts.

No matter which site you book, all overnight guests will have access to the resort's spa, yoga classes, restrooms and shower, and complimentary breakfast at the Lodge Restaurant. Note that Treebones is strictly for campers 13 and up, and a majority of the yurts are limited to two guests a night.

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Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Just south of the center of Big Sur on the coastal side, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is reserved for campers who truly want to get away from it all. There are only two campsites available inside the whole park, and both are by reservation only, so needless to say they fill up pretty far in advance. Both spots are also hike-in only, meaning you’ll have to bring all of your equipment on foot. Be sure to fill up on water before you come, as the closest running water can be found across Highway 1, near the park's restrooms.

Address
52801 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920-9528, USA
Phone +1 831-667-1112
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Ventana Campground

Ventana Campground

Courtesy of Ventana Campground

Address
48123 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920-9538, USA
Phone +1 844-595-5351

Nestled in a 40-acre redwood canyon, Ventana is a tent-only campground located 30 miles south of Carmel. Each campsite comes with a picnic table and fire ring, and water faucets are available throughout the grounds. Guests also have access to showers ($2 for every five minutes) as well as a camp store for ice, firewood, and other essentials. Prefer to glamp? Ventana also operates a glampsite nearby, where campers can enjoy two modern bathhouses, Wi-Fi, and power outlets with USB ports.

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The 11 Best Campgrounds in Big Sur