Big Sur Camping: The Best Places to Camp in Big Sur
We have been camping in Big Sur a handful of times and it’s one of our all-time favorite places to camp. We usually visit in either spring or fall as we like to avoid the summer crowds. Visiting during this time of year can mean gorgeous sunsets, uncrowded hikes, mild weather during the day and slightly lower temperatures at night.
During our first Big Sur camping trip, we encountered some rainy conditions, but all in all, it wasn’t too cold to camp. This year we were graced with temperatures in the high sixties, without a cloud in the sky.
The following is a list of the best places to camp in Big Sur.
Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park
Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is not to be confused with Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, which only has two campsites, but sits on the bluff right above McWay Falls. There are plenty of hikes available in and around Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park including Pheiffer Falls, a hike through giant redwoods to a 60-foot waterfall.
Camping fees at Pfeiffer Big Sur are $35-$50 per night.
I didn’t include Julia Pfeiffer Burns merely because it’s extremely tough to get a reservation at one of the two sites, so your best bet is to stay at Pfeiffer Big Sur if you want to be near McWay Falls. This waterfall is just a 15-20 minute drive from the campground.
Kirk Creek Campground
Kirk Creek will always be one of our favorite campgrounds in Big Sur. It sits right on the bluff, overlooking the ocean. We lucked out and arrived just as another camper was packing up and snagged their site right along the cliff’s edge. Half of the sites are available for reservation and the other half are on a first-come, first-served basis.
Camping fees are $35 per night.
Our group camped at Fernwood Resort among the redwood trees. My only complaint about Fernwood (and other campgrounds in the redwoods) during the winter is that it is about ten degrees colder than a campground that gets full sun. The bonus to Fernwood is the restaurant and general store for those times when you don’t feel like cooking or if you forgot a few supplies.
Tent sites at Fernwood Resort start at $65 per night.
Andrew Molera State Park
At Andrew Molera, all of the 24 campsites are hike in only, so this is not the ideal spot for car campers. That being said, if you have the gear, it’s well worth the short hike to the campsites. They do provide a picnic table, fire pit with grill, and food storage bin at each campsite. There are also restrooms and garbage bins near the campsites, so you are not completely roughing it.
To find the park, look for mile marker 51.2 on Highway 1, about 21 miles south of Carmel. All sites are first-come, first-served.
Limekiln State Park
Limekiln State Park is situated in the redwoods, about 56 miles south of Carmel, and it offers 29 campsites located creekside, on the beachfront, and in the forest. This park was once the site of a limekiln operation and just a short walk from your campsite, you can explore the limekiln ruins, in addition to hikes to the beach and Limekiln Falls.
Each campsite has a fire ring and a picnic table. All campsites can be reserved up to 6 months in advance and the cost is$35 per night.
Packing List for Camping in Big Sur
We are big fans of packing light when camping and have put together a great kit, which is what we used when camping in Big Sur. Andrew Molera State Park is hike-in only, so you’ll definitely want to limit what you bring to this campground.
Camping Stove: We have done extensive research on the best and lightest backpacking gear. This backpacking stove is tiny and weighs next to nothing.
Cookware: We love this tiny cookware set because it’s extremely compact.
Sleeping Bags: This sleeping bag is extremely warm and it gets excellent reviews.
Tent: We love this lightweight Marmot 2-person tent.
Sleeping Pads: These ones are amazing!
Backpacks: If you are looking for a durable, light, and inexpensive backpack, we recommend the Teton Scout.
Portable Charger: We carry this portable charger to charge our phones.
For more packing tips, read our Ultimate Packing Checklist for Campers
If you find yourself in Big Sur, we highly recommend taking a drive to Point Lobos State Reserve in Carmel. It’s one of the most beautiful places to travel in Central California. For more great places to camp in the United States, see our Havasu Falls travel tips, Yellowstone camping tips, and the best places to camp in California.