This guide will help you discover the best Big Sur Campgrounds and share the secret to snagging a weekend reservation! If you’re driving the Pacific Coast Highway in Big Sur, the best way to slow down and soak it all in on the most beautiful stretch of California coastline is to plan a night camping here. There’s no better way to enjoy Big Sur than to pitch a tent with views of the ocean, or under the shade of giant coastal redwoods.
Camping in Big Sur fills up fast – summer weekends are usually booked up six months in advance. Plus, it’s a hodge podge of different systems; there are campgrounds in national forests, state parks, and even a few private ones. This guide will help you find the best camping spots in Big Sur without having to dig around and sift through a bunch of different websites.
I’ve noted which Big Sur campgrounds have a few first-come first-served campsites if you’re bold enough to chance it without a reservation (though don’t plan on them being empty if you pull up on a Friday night). I’ve also listed a few campgrounds that are a bit north or south of Big Sur in case you find yourself in a pickle and really need a place to stay the night. Note about camping in Big Sur in light of the Coronavirus pandemic: A number of state campgrounds are still closed as of Summer 2020.
Most national and private campgrounds are open, though they may have instituted specific measures to promote social distancing while camping. Your best option is to fill up before or after you reach Big Sur (check out Gas Buddy for prices). Don’t forget to read to the end for my best tip on booking over a popular summer weekend!
: $65-80 per night for tent/RV sites, $135 to $440 for cabins Amenities : hot showers, fire pit, picnic table, tubing, volleyball & basketball courts, playground : hot showers, fire pit, picnic table, tubing, volleyball & basketball courts, playground Check Availability Here Big Sur Campground is privately owned, which means rates are bit higher than state or national parks.
It emphasizes its family friendly atmosphere, including quiet time starting at 10pm.
: $70-$80 per night, $180 to $275 Amenities : Tubing, camp store, showers, pincic table, fire pit, no sewer hookups or dump station for RVs : Tubing, camp store, showers, pincic table, fire pit, no sewer hookups or dump station for RVs Check availability here
Several of the cabins include private bathrooms and a few kitchen appliances, like a fridge and coffee maker. The Fernwood Campground borders the Pfieffer Big Sur State Park along its northern edge. : $35-50 per night Amenities : Flush toilets, showers, fire pit with half-grill, picnic table, lodge store, dump station, no RV hookups : Flush toilets, showers, fire pit with half-grill, picnic table, lodge store, dump station, no RV hookups Check availability here
Camp sites are situated along the Big Sur river, where a lot of people spend the day playing in the water. The park features a large Ampitheater for ranger program and sometimes holds evening events.
Day Use parking lots 3 and 4 are available for one night only for self-contained RVs with onboard flush toilets only. Amenities: Updated bathrooms, picnic table, fire ring, water faucets near campsites, restaurants nearby Ventana Campground is located just south of Pfieffer Big Sur State Park in a 40-acre redwood canyon.
It’s associated with the luxury resort Ventana Big Sur, where nightly room rates are several thousand dollars. Make reservations as soon as the slots open for a chance to get one of these spots, or periodically check back for cancellations. Amenities: Picnic table, campfire ring with grill, water and showers, No RVS allowed
The only downside to this spot is that day hikers that come to through Limekiln will walk through the redwood campground area to get to the trailheads. Amenities: Picnic table, campfire ring with grill, vault toilets, no water or RV hookups You can take a short hike down to Kirk Creek and the rocky beach right below, just take the trail between campgrounds 9 and 11.
There are also a few walk-in only sites, meant for hikers coming through on the popular Vicente Flat Trail. Amenities: Picnic table, campfire ring with grill, Flush toilets, sinks and drinking water The Plaskett Creek Campground is located right off the Highway one, across the street from the popular Sand Dollar Beach.
All campsites at Plaskett Creek are grassy, which always helps for a softer sleeping surface and keeping your camping gear a bit cleaner. Ever since we moved up to Northern California a year ago, we’ve been looking forward to a weekend in Big Sur. After all, it’s only about two hours away now instead of six (from where we lived in Orange County), it’s got incredible beaches, surfing, hiking, and some of the most gorgeous coastline in all of California. But anytime I went to reserve a weekend spot at any of the Big Sur campgrounds, they were all booked up.
I’d hop on first thing in the morning when the next Friday night was supposed to open up six months in the future, but it seemed like everyone beat me to it. In the screenshot example below of Kirk Creek Campground, say you wanted to camp on Friday, January 22nd.
And keep in mind, this screenshot example is for January, when Big Sur camping reservations are much easier to come by than in the summer. If you’re planning a trip in the middle of winter, you may be able to wait until the Friday opens up to make a reservation for a campsite.
It can be tough to find free camping in Big Sur, trust me, I’ve tried. Prewitt Ridge seems to be the best bet for free dispersed camping in Big Sur.
It is located high above the Big Sur Coastline, and you’ll most likely need a 4-wheel drive vehicle to get up the dirt road.