Take our advice: Give yourself at least a long weekend, which allows enough time to soak in the thundering surf of the Pacific, the stillness of the redwoods, the magical fog that envelops the area during early morning hikes. We recommend starting in San Francisco and working your way down, which will take you past iconic Northern California beach towns like Santa Cruz and Carmel, plus plenty of spots to pull over and survey the craggy, jagged coastline—on the mend after some particularly devastating storms and mudslides last spring. The town itself is making a strong recovery, especially since the completion of the rebuilt Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge, which means innkeepers are excitedly welcoming visitors back after months-long absences. From a room here, perched on a 1,foot cliff, there are only two things to see: the wild Santa Lucia mountains and the Pacific. And while the surrounding natural beauty is a given, the hotel also has a lot to offer indoors.
You'll find a variety of cabins, including tent cabins and A-Frame cabins. California Condor Gymnogyps californianus The Cheat sex tour condor is the largest North American land Bird, weighing from 15 to 31 pounds, they also have the largest wingspans of any North American bird of up to 10 feet. I wouldn't recommend to anyone. In the summer, you must leave early if you want to get your pick of campsites once you arrive at Sykes. Fact is, there are lots of places to park and pitch your tent, and the higher you go up the road, the better the views are of the sea. Online reservations available on the website. With oceanfront views and plenty of hiking trails nearby, Kirk Creek is a Big Sur camping favorite of mine, and one of Big sur hikeing camps adult best spots if you want to camp on a Big Sur cliffside. Big Sur Big sur hikeing camps adult a fantastic place.
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Mass tourism has come to Big Sur. Bring a tent or RV, but bear in mind while there are vault toilets, no water, dump station, or hookups are on-site. Saturday: enjoy the wilderness Wake up early in the morning to get a head-start on your hike! The campsites are located in beautiful places, often with stunning views of the Pacific ocean, forest, or mountains. Your email address will not be published. Reviews Meggin Brie T. Sullivans Island, South Carolina. Each hike also has its own Chubby gwen trail map. Bio Latest Posts. Kirk Creek is certainly one of the best places to camp in Big Sur. Thank you for your input and concern. Obviously, the summer is crazy Big sur hikeing camps adult up and down the coast.
Whether this is your first camping trip or your hundredths, we want to make sure that you do Big Sur right, that is why we have written this comprehensive Big Sur camping guide for you.
- Looking for a great trail near Big Sur, California?
- When you think about backpacking, the first thing that probably comes to mind is a perfect summer day in the Sierras.
- Whether this is your first camping trip or your hundredths, we want to make sure that you do Big Sur right, that is why we have written this comprehensive Big Sur camping guide for you.
Our insider guide shows you everything you need so know to camp Big Sur. As of , well over 2. Escaping the crowds especially in the summer takes some effort, but it is by no means impossible. This epic Big Sur camping guide will show you the best places to camp in Big Sur.
Join me as I break down the best time of year to go camping in Big Sur, the best free campsites, top paid campsites, the best car camping spots, and maybe even a glamping spot or two. Big Sur has no definitive borders, though the general consensus is that the above-mentioned stretch of highway and the surrounding mountains from south of Carmel to the north of San Simeon makes up greater Big Sur. Big Sur is not and cannot be densely populated due to the rugged nature and isolation of its topography.
There is no shortcut to get into and out of Big Sur by car. The only access is via the Pacific Coast Highway known from here on as Highway 1. Certainly Free camping in Big Sur is a contentious issue. Point being, both the locals and the police have had enough of the disrespectful campers shitting everywhere and leaving behind piles of rubbish. If you do intend to camp off a forest service road which I will cover in a minute , ALWAYS be smart about where and how you go to the toilet with no toilets.
Urinate at least 70 steps from water sources. Bury your waste. Take your trash with you. Nobody wants to see that! If you do choose to make a fire, never leave your fire unattended. There are numerous forest service roads running through or adjacent national forest land owned by the government that offer the best free Big Sur camping spots. Below, I cover the best free Big Sur camping spots that can be accessed by car …. Really these campsites are just flat spots off of the road where people have been setting up shop for decades.
In the past, some folks even parked here semi-permanently, though I think law enforcement has put an end to long-term camping here.
Any time of the year you could find people camping along this road. Fact is, there are lots of places to park and pitch your tent, and the higher you go up the road, the better the views are of the sea.
You might have found yourself driving the road for minutes before finding an available place to stop. With zero facilities on offer, it is not a surprise that campers here have made a mess of things. On a California road trip? Check out our guide here. View from along the Nacimiento-Ferguson Road.
After the Big Sur mudslides in that forced road closures further south on Highway 1 , camping was made illegal on the Nacimiento -Ferguson Road. The official word from the Forest Service was that the camping along the road is forbidden until August 19th, This pot-holed track follows a backcountry route into the Big Sur interior. All the same, this is Big Sur we are talking about. Get to know what LNT is about and put the principles into practice!
Road conditions on the Plaskett Ridge road. Photo: Dylan Sigley. Los Burros Road is another classic free Big Sur camping area that offers great views and peaceful camping.
Like all place in Big Sur the secret is out when it comes to Los Burros. That said, compared to some of the other campsites on my list, Los Burros can be less populated with campers…and it is a fucking gorgeous spot. Go early in order to snag the best spots. In my opinion, the best Big Sur Camping involves a trek or hike. There is an endless amount of awesome camping opportunities in the backcountry of Big Sur.
Of those who do, far fewer still do so with the intention to camp overnight. I have seen insane traffic pile-ups, congestion, and masses of humanity just outside some of the popular state parks. After parking my truck at the visitors center and hiking 10 miles to the Sykes Hot Springs in the Ventana Wilderness, I found myself pitching my tent next to the river with nobody in sight. Camping out in the wilderness areas is the best way to escape the crowds, hands down.
Plus, you can be certain that no police or ranger will hassle or fine you for camping. Now onto one of my favorite topics: Big Sur camping in the wild. The ridgeline trail begins along the north flank of Cone Peak and follows a craggy ridge with sweeping views of the coast and mountains. This hike leads to Cook Spring Camp, a rather primitive backcountry camp under a stand of sugar cone pine trees. There is a water spring at the camp, that should be flowing any time of year.
That said, the Ventana Wilderness does experience drought and the last thing you want is for the spring to be dry when you arrive. This might be unnecessary, but you never know. Last Chance Falls is a truly magical waterfall—arguably one of the best backcountry waterfalls in all of Big Sur. The falls are, however, very seasonal.
You might show up in the summer and not see a single drop of water flowing. Though in the fall, winter, and spring, the flows can be epic. Creek crossings found on the hike can be difficult if the water flow happens to be particularly fierce. The easiest start is from Bottchers Gap. To arrive, take Highway 1 south from Carmel for roughly 20 miles. Make a left at Palo Colorado Rd and drive through a remote cluster of houses dotted among some massive redwoods adorning the canyon.
The best camping option is probably Lone Pine Camp, though you can wild camp in many other places should you choose to. Water sources can be far and few between. Keep that in mind when choosing a place to camp. Once it opens though, it is a hike not to be missed! The hike begins at the Ventana Wilderness ranger station parking lot. The trail itself is an undulating footpath 10 miles one way that takes you away from the coast and into the rugged interior of the mountains.
There are several ascents and descents, with little to no shade from the sun. Start early and avoid the heat of the day. In the summer, you must leave early if you want to get your pick of campsites once you arrive at Sykes.
The hot spring pools sit perched above the river. The pools can accommodate several adults perfect for couples. The water temperature seems to consistently be at or near F.
This place is the essence of what makes Big Sur camping so magical. I hope this track opens soon! Tucked away above the river is where to find the hot springs. From within these state parks, one can experience the quintessential Big Sur Coast, epic day hikes, redwoods, waterfalls, and, of course, some of the best Big Sur camping spots imaginable.
Since camping on Highway 1 is illegal and camping on certain Forest Service roads is too , state park campgrounds offer up a stress-free alternative to free guerrilla camping. The campsites are located in beautiful places, often with stunning views of the Pacific ocean, forest, or mountains.
The only catch? They can be crowded as hell and of course, you need to pay. In the summer, the state park campgrounds are booked out every night, often months in advance.
Bearing all of that in mind, during low season the campgrounds are significantly less busy and can be very enjoyable indeed. Of course, not having to make reservations has its benefits and its pitfalls. Since there are only 24 campsites available on any given day, be sure to get there early very early in some cases to ensure you snag a campsite. Andrew Molera is my favorite coastal state park in Big Sur. There are plenty of awesome day hikes, secluded beaches, and jaw-dropping views especially at sunset.
Tip : try to get a campsite with a fire ring and picnic table! I swear everything seems to be closed this year! Trail view from a hike at Andrew Molera State Park. The campsites are nestled on a cliff under some trees overlooking the ocean. The obvious major drawback? There are only two goddamn campsites! Reservations can only be made up to six months in advance. Upon checking the availability schedule, I found both campsites are fully booked for the next six months.
Pretty much as soon as you know you are coming to Big Sur, check the reservation website and book whatever is available within your time frame. If you do somehow manage a reservation, hopefully, you will get to see some whales, dolphins, or other amazing sea creatures!
The park features the beauty of the redwoods, rugged coast, and cultural history of the limekilns. The park contains four lime kilns from an — lime-calcining operation.
Ventana Campground is a tent only campground. Maxine L on Buzzards Roost Trail. It was way up Los Burros road. The unique purple sand is loved by kids and adults alike. Take your pick of a yurt, a grand and autonomous tent, a human-size nest, or a twig hut.
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Big Sur Guided Day Hike & Ecotour
The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail. Big Sur has many great destinations, but Sykes Hot Springs is definitely near the top of the list for anyone who has been there.
It is roughly miles to the Skyes campground, and limited climbing after the first 2 hours which can be steep at times, and tiring in the direct sun.
The hot springs is about 8 feet across and a couple of feet deep--about the size for 4 adults, and it stays around degrees depending on rain. Start by parking at the Ventana Wilderness area ranger station and heading towards the back parking lot. The ranger station wants you to have a campfire permit even for stove and lantern use. Such a shame to hear of the overcrowding. I camped there in , then again in , very few people. I was hoping to go back, so it's sad to hear of the long term closure and the overcrowding there.
In terms of the trail itself, it can be tough due to the switchbacks and inclines. The valley with the hotspring is really pretty. Not sure I'd want to go if it was as crowded as people say in recent years. Did a two-nighter out there a while back. Backpacked to one of the campsites a couple miles away from the hot springs and then hiked up to the springs the following day.
Hot springs were nothing too impressive, but the hike up was really beautiful with just the right amount of elevation for a good workout. This was one of my favorite hikes while living in California. With that said, the crowds had clearly taken a toll, so I'm actually hoping the closure means it will be relatively inaccessible for a considerable time.
This place needs time to heal. The Pine Ridge Trail to Sykes is closed indefinitely. Locally we hear years. While this is a bummer for everyone, please understand that Sykes and the backcountry of Big Sur deserves a much needed break.
For years, Sykes got crushed. Damming, Trash, Fire, and Destruction were the norm. I am a local Big Sur resident who advocates for the backcountry, because she has no voice. There are many other trails listed here on this site. You can get into the backcountry, but for a while, it cannot be through the Pine Ridge Trail. Has anyone gone on this trail while closed?? Did this years ago, before GPS. I remember how sore I was and how quiet. My friends and I hiked this for a multi-day camping trip in April ' This was the first time I had ever been on an overnight hike.
It was grueling at times and I would NOT recommend it for a first timer who is out of shape. The only reason I did fine on this hike was that I upped my fitness level a little in the weeks prior to the hike simply by going for daily long walks.
The one member of our party who hadn't hiked in a long time and who was totally out of shape had a really, really tough time. There is a lot of up and down, at times pretty steep, and you hit the ups pretty early in the hike. Having said that, it was a spectacular hike. Had it been dry and warm, it would have been exponentially harder. Whenever they open this up again, if this is your first overnight hike, I would recommend going in late April that's when we went or early May for cooler temps and the chance for some rain yes, personally, I prefer a little precip on this kind of hike.
Also, if your level of fitness is low or non-existent, I'd at least do some daily light cardio for weeks prior to your trip. Again, this is a spectacular hike and I found it to be very rewarding to complete, on a personal level.
The trail was rather busy, which surprised me for such a long hike, but I actually liked seeing and talking to so many folks on such a lengthy and difficult hike. Somehow, I found that that camaraderie made the hike easier and that's coming from someone who is typically anti-social.
This is a long and at times grueling hike. But it is also beautiful and rewarding and is well worth the effort. I'd definitely do it again and hope to someday. I did this hike with a group of friends of varying backpacking experience back in when we were all juniors in high school.
This may have been at the peak of its popularity before the fires, and as luck would have it, the springs were VERY crowded, and they are all very small and intimate. It was a really great bonding experience, and for the less outdoorsy friends, it really opened their eyes to the magic of getting somewhere worthwhile on your own two feet.
Unexpectedly gnarly up and down the entire way; my ankles were done by the time we got to camp! You can hike out in two days if you need by sleeping at a camp that is about halfway. Definitely a formative experience for me as an outdoors lover.
Hike prepared! This trail is closed indefinitely-lots of mudslide damage. Closed till further notice. All trails should update asap.
Loved this hike - had to cut down the stream to the springs once you got there. Definitely felt crowded, this was on a weekday in Crowds were getting pretty intense up here before the Fall fire.
Haven't been back since it burnt but used to be one of my favorite places in big sur. Awesome trail, nice to backpack for the night.
Can be crowded at the Springs. This is a highly traveled trail so if you don't like crowds either go during the week or try another trail. A little too much sweat and bodily fluids in one body of water for me. Camping spots are generally pretty crowded because of the number of people coming through. Definitely a tough hike, especially in the heat. We did This back in Epic hike with a reward at the end. While Sykes wasn't affected by the fire. There has been reports of people Illegally camping in and having campfires according to the ranger station.
The ranger, said that it'll be closed for a while. Likely to open back up in April. A bit tedious up and down the whole way but nice hike with cool River and springs at end. First time where I hiked and camped overnight with all my gear. Left at 4pm and got up before it got dark to setup camp. Definitely needed the hot springs to recover. Dogs barely made it but did it 2 days. Definitely possible if you keep a good pace. One of my all time favorites! The hike is long and I'd say moderate but long.
The end is definitely worth it. Bring a bathing suit :. I have backpacked to Ventana Camp once before I did this trek. I really am not entirely experience in backpacking and I am here to warn you if you are not experienced I would skip this trip or maybe just settle for a closer camp.
It took me two days to get out to Sykes. We kinda just decided to go on the trail and see how far we could go and we ended up making it all the way to Sykes. It was gorgeous there. WAY to many people though and people were not respecting others turns in the hot springs. They were just all jumping in front of people who were waiting to get into them.
Also kinda wanted to be able to strip down but that was impossible cause so many people there and young kids. Id also suggest going extremely early in the day or later at night and also in a cooler season because it gets really hot and strenuous on that trail especially from the trail head to Ventana camp. Not much to see but the hot springs are worth the hike. The proximity to San Francisco is super convenient.
We took a quick 2. We got a late start late for what we wanted and were on the trail by am. It was foggy for the first 3 miles or so, which was great. It kept the temperature down during the steep initial ascent.
The single track trail is well maintained, and relatively easy as far as wilderness trails go. The main challenge is the length.