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Big Sur Camping
Pitch your tent! Park your RV! Enjoy oceanside camping with stunning views!
In the slide show above, you're viewing pictures of Big Sur's Plaskett Creek campground, the Kirk Creek campground, and the Limekiln State Park campground. All three of these fine Big Sur camping grounds are set amidst some of California's most gorgeous scenery. Sweeping ocean views may or may not be visible from your actual campsite, but they're never far away!
Southern Big Sur camping overview
Will you be driving the ultra-scenic California Highway 1 as part of your road trip vacation? If so, you'll be treated to luxurious, sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean and its rock-strewn shoreline. Yet, on just the other side of the highway, your view will be that of towering hillsides. California coastal Hwy 1 sits on such a narrow ledge of land that you'll be wedged between these 2 scenic extremes as you travel!
To enjoy these spectacles of nature more thoroughly, you'll be tempted to camp in order to feel close to the natural beauty surrounding you. Why not give it a try? Because of Big Sur's geography that features "mountains meeting the sea," you can actually enjoy 2 different types of camping experiences along this thin strip of land...in the very same camping trip!
Map of Big Sur area: This page focuses on 4 campgrounds along the Big Sur coastline. The custom Google map to your left shows the locations of the Big Sur campgrounds discussed on this page---the Limekiln SP Campground, the Kirk Creek NF campground, the Plaskett Creek NF campground, and the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park campground. (If map fails to load, please use the "view larger map" link.)
If you would like a PDF map of the Big Sur area that you can print at home & bring with you on your camping trip, here's the link to a PDF map of Central California showing the highways and towns from Santa Barbara to Monterey, Ca. The Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is marked on this PDF map, but unfortunately, the Limekiln, Kirk Creek and Plaskett Creek campground locations are not.
Other good camping near Big Sur: If you'll be traveling along the Central California coastline, you may also wish to camp at some of the other scenic campgrounds available just south of Big Sur. You may check out our San Simeon SP Campgrounds, our Morro Bay Camping, our Montana de Oro campground, our Pismo Beach camping, and our Santa Barbara Beach Camping pages to see pictures and get ideas for other fun camping trips you might enjoy.
Plaskett Creek Campground
Relax under the trees at this Los Padres National Forest camping gem!
The inviting Plaskett Creek campground is a US Forest Service campground that's part of the Los Padres National Forest.
Located across California Hwy 1 from the Pacific Ocean's shore, you won't have direct beach access when you camp at Plaskett Creek. However, the walk is only a short one.
Meanwhile, the tree-shrouded environment within the Plaskett Creek camping ground is nearly as lovely as the beach itself. As the greenery of mature trees towers over your head, its cooling shade provides shelter from the sun and wind as you camp beneath them.
Surfers will be interested to know that the Plaskett Creek campground is the closest camping area to Sand Dollar Beach.
In the slides above, you're viewing pictures of the Plaskett Creek campground. If the slideshow has stopped by the time you reach this point, refreshing the page should get it running once again.
Plaskett Creek Campground Amenities
2.) Running water is available at spigots located throughout the campground, and flush toilets are provided.
3.) Each camping site has a picnic table and grill; the use of fire is subject to campground regulations.
4.) Interior park roads are paved, and so are the camping spurs.
5.) Very natural setting; this bonus for natural beauty means that you'll have to plan your trip thoroughly ahead of time! There will be no running to the store for items you left at home---because there are no stores within miles. Neither are there restaurants, laundromats, souvenir shops, or gas stations!
Plaskett Creek Campground location, fees & contact information
Directions: the Plaskett Creek campground is located on California State Highway 1, 35 miles north of San Simeon State Park (coming from the south); or, 60 miles south of Carmel (if you're arriving from the north.)
Map to Plaskett Campground: To your left, you'll find a custom Google map to the Plaskett Creek Campground. If the map isn't working well, you may use the link to "view larger map," which seems to work more reliably. By zooming in with the satellite view of the map of Plaskett Creek Campground, you can see an aerial photo of the camping area.
Plaskett Creek campground fees: Camping fees at the National Forest's Plaskett Creek camping ground begin at $35 per night (as of Summer, 2019.) These fees are payable by cash or California check at the park, if you haven't made a reservation. There is an envelope you should fill out at the campground; enclose your payment, then put it into the campground's drop box.
Reservations for Plaskett Creek campground: Camping at Plaskett Creek used to offer the best of both worlds: the campground reserved 50% of its campsites, while the other 50% of camping spaces were first come-first served. We enjoyed this because in California, beach camping reservations can fill up for months ahead of time, and we're more spur-of-the-moment people. But...a full 86% of camping spaces are now reserve-ahead spots, which leaves less than a dozen campsites available for last-minute arrivals. Oh well...at least with more spaces on reserve, then more vacationers can be assured that they'll have a place to stay when they arrive. BUT, the change in the ratio of campsite allotments means that it's more important than ever before to make plans in advance.
If you'd like to make reservations, here's a link to the Plaskett Creek campground reservations page of the www.Recreation.gov website. On this page, you may reserve a site for your tent or your RV (up to 50 feet in length); there are no hookups. You may also make reservations by calling 1-877-444-6777.
Plaskett Creek Campground's website: Plaskett Creek doesn't have its own website, but its information can be found on the National Forest's website. Plaskett Creek Campground is a unit of the Monterey Ranger district of the Los Padres National Forest. Here is a link to the Los Padres National Forest website. From this page, you'll be able to learn more about features of this national forest. You'll also be able to discover info about other campgrounds in the Los Padres NF, as well.
Or, if you just prefer further info about Plaskett, here's the Plaskett Creek details page of the Los Padres NF website.
Plaskett Creek Campground phone number: 877-444-6777 is the telephone number to call for making reservations at Plaskett Creek.
Kirk Creek Campground
This Big Sur camping area offers views, views, views!
In the slide show above, you're viewing photos of the lovely Kirk Creek campground, which features oceanfront camping with unprecedented views of the Pacific. If the slides have stopped running, you may refresh this page to start the show over again.
It's difficult to tell from these photos, but the Kirk Creek campground is surrounded on 3 sides by the ocean. So, unless you look behind that campground at the mountains, you'll see the blue Pacific in any direction you look. We can't remember when we've ever been in a campground that's like it.
Bring a jacket, even in the summertime. The ocean breezes can cool down the campground to the point that it's chilly. Fog can be a possibility here, as well...especially in the morning.
Kirk Creek Campground Amenities
1.) The Kirk Creek campground's biggest amenity is its location! Kirk Creek campsites sit high on a bluff which is outcropped like a pier. You'll enjoy views of the Pacific Ocean on 3 sides of the campground! The view to the east---one of ruggedly rising mountains---is thought to be just as stunning, by many visitors.
2.) The Kirk Creek Campground has 33 campsites, which are available for use by either tents or RV's. There is a separate tent-only area for adventuresome visitors arriving by bicycle or on foot. Each campsite at Kirk Creek has a picnic table and grill.
3.) Bathrooms have flush toilets, and running water is available. However, the campsites have no hookups for RV's. There is no dump station at Kirk Creek.
5.) Recreation at Kirk Creek Campground: You can reach the beach by a trail leading from the campground down to the water. Hiking enthusiasts will want to enjoy the trails leading into the mountains (trail heads are just across the highway from the campground.) Use of the beach and/or hiking trails is free (for those visitors not wishing to camp.)
6.) Services at Kirk Creek Campground: Camping at Kirk Creek is very "back to nature." Other than water, you'll have to think ahead and bring your own supplies to meet your camping, clothing, recreational and meal preparation needs. There is no store, no laundromat, no restaurant, nor gas available at Kirk Creek.
In other words, if you arrive at the Kirk Creek Campground either by hiking or biking, you're guaranteed to have a camping space when you get there.
It's a way to reward all those who arrive in an "environmentally friendly" way. It's a reward...and also a practicality, as well. The Kirk Creek Campground is located miles from a town. The 2 closest campgrounds, Limekiln and Plaskett Creek...which are easy to reach by car...don't seem so nearby to a hiker! (And, both of these camping areas frequently fill to capacity during the busy summer months, anyway.) Imagine how difficult it would be to get to another camping site or motel in the city if you were dependent on your own feet or pedal power!
Kirk Creek Campground fees and mapsFees at the Kirk Creek Campground currently run $35/night. You'll pay the fee at a self-serve kiosk/bulletin board area. There is no park ranger stationed at the campground full-time. However, rangers do drive through and make security checks from time to time throughout the day and night.
Kirk Creek Campground reservations: Kirk Creek now allots a whopping 83% of its spaces for the reservations system. So, these days most spaces may be already taken before you decide to make your camping trip. But, at least there's still the other 17% of non-reservable spaces that you can try for if you're a last-minute vacationer.
If you would like to reserve your camping space ahead of time, you may use the following link to reach the Kirk Creek camping reservations page of the www.Recreation.gov website.
Note: If you don't find any spaces available when you try to reserve a spot, that's because the reservable spaces are already booked solid. Yes, that DOES happen with the Kirk Creek camping spaces! It wouldn't be uncommon to try to reserve a campsite in June...and not find any availability...at all...until September. In that case, you'll have to try for one of the park's un-reservable campsites (or else choose a different campground.)
Map to Kirk Creek Campground: You may refer to the custom Google map to your left in planning your camping trip. Camping map of Kirk Creek's campsites: You'll see an interactive map of the Kirk Creek camping sites on the Kirk Creek camping reservations page of the www.Recreation.gov website (see link above.) You'll also see a photo of the Kirk Creek camping map in the slide show at the top of this page.
Kirk Creek Campground website: Kirk Creek is a camping unit of the Los Padres National Forest (Monterey Ranger District.) The US Forest Service website is where you'll find information about Kirk Creek (and other National Forest campgrounds in the surrounding area.) You may discover any price changes that may be in effect by the time you take your trip. Here's a link to the Kirk Creek details page of the Los Padres NF website.
State park camping with hillside or flat-land campsite options
Why do camping-lovers enjoy Limekiln? A pretty beach. A choice of camping areas within the campground. And a cozy feeling of being sheltered in a scenic glen.
Campsites terraced on a hillside? Strange, but true---when you camp at Limekiln State Park, you'll get to choose between camping on the slopes of a mountainside...or under the trees...or more "routine" camping sites down at sea level.
Though it's hard to believe, the Limekiln Campground...just a short drive from the Kirk Creek Camp Ground...will give you a completely different type of camping experience. While the Kirk Creek Campground sits on the western, "ocean" side of California Route 1, the Limekiln Campground sits on the "mountain" side of the highway. You'll need to try both campgrounds to experience and enjoy their differences!
What's different? Aside from the difference that Kirk Creek has a direct ocean front view, the biggest difference for you, the camper, is that Limekiln State Park is part of the California State Parks system (not the National Forest system.) The State Parks allow 100% of camping spaces to be reserved in many of its parks...including Limekiln. This means that you'll HAVE to make reservations during the summer if you want to stay here. Some Big Sur-lovers plan their camping trips to Limekiln many months in advance. You must do that, too, if you want to compete. If you don't have reservations, there's not much chance that you'll get a spot here during the summer tourist season. The rangers at Limekiln tell me that no-shows to the park are VERY rare. It is a good idea to make reservations even during the off-season months with a campground as popular as Limekiln.
Limekiln Campground Fees & ReservationsLimekiln State Park phone number: (805) 434-1996 is the telephone number for general information about the Limekiln campground.
Limekiln State Park camping fees: Limekiln camping rates are $35 per campsite. There is no longer a lower off-season rate.
Limekiln State Park website: Information about the Limekiln SP campground is found in this park's own special section of the California State Parks website. Here's a link to the Limekiln State Park section of the State Parks official website.
Camping map of Limekiln State Park: There is an interactive map of the Limekiln Campground on the Reserve California website (see link in the paragraph below.) You'll be able to get specific information about each different campsite which interests you by using that map. On the other hand, if you'd like a printable PDF map of the Limekiln campground...which includes both a map of the campsites and a list of campground rules, here's the link to a PDF Limekiln camping map and park brochure from the California State Parks website.
Limekiln camping reservations: Like most campgrounds in the California State Parks system, the Limekiln camping ground uses Reserve California to handle its reservation requests. Here's a link to the www.ReserveCalifornia.com website. From Home Page, type "Limekiln SP" and your camping dates, and you will be served a calendar showing the open campsites during that time frame. Dates with campsites still available will be marked GREEN on the park's calendar. Those dates marked with RED signify that all spaces have already been reserved for that day.
Limekiln State Park Address: The Limekiln campground has no exact street address; simply, Highway 1, Big Sur, CA 93920 is used. However, you won't have a hard time finding the camp because it's clearly marked with signs.
Map to Limekiln State Park: In the custom Google map to your right, you can see the campground at Limekiln State Park highlighted with a pinpoint. You may zoom in on the satellite view to see a good aerial photo of the camping area. Or, you may zoom out to see the roads you'll need to take to reach the park.
Pfeiffer Big Sur State ParkWhat's one of the most popular state campgrounds along the Big Sur coastline? It's Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, located right in the little village of Big Sur. The Pfeiffer SP campground is well-loved and always seems to be full, which is why it's difficult to get a spot here. But, with advanced reservations...or some good luck during the off-season...you'll be able to enjoy an exciting campground which features dense trees, lovely hiking paths, a scenic lodge and a reputation of being one of the top attractions at Big Sur.
Pfeiffer Big Sur camping fees and amenities: Campsites at the Pfeiffer Big Sur campground begin at $35 per night. Premium riverfront spaces and in-route 1-night camping spots charge more than "regular" campsites. Each site includes a picnic table, fire pit/grill, relatively level and comfortable tent space, and parking apron for car or RV. (Note: there are RV length limits; be sure to check the limit for the space you choose when making reservations. Motorhomes up to 32 feet in length are accepted at Pfeiffer Big Sur SP, but not all campsites can accommodate that size. It is common for the site limit to be only 30 ft...or even only 25 feet long. Rigs larger than the 35' limit will need to visit one of the private campgrounds in the area. Campsites do not have RV hookups for electricity, water nor sewer.
Pfeiffer Big Sur SP website: For more campground information, here is the Pfeiffer Big Sur SP website, where you can find out complete info about the park.
Check camping alerts before planning your trip. Due to frequent landslides in this area, there may be road closures. (For example, in 2018, there was a landslide that covered both lanes of traffic on the highway to the park. As the lanes were cleared, the closure point kept moving until, at last, the entire road became open again.) Here's a link to the Road Alerts & Campground Rules page of the park's website. If you don't see an alert posted, then there shouldn't be one. In case some other disaster closes the road again, here's the link to a Alternative Big Sur & Central Coast Campgrounds page PDF flyer published by the California State Parks system. For road alerts in a wider area, here's a 2nd Road Alerts page which will let you know if any nearby campgrounds & day-use parks that you might wish to visit are affected with closures. It's seriously doubtful that you'd ever be in danger of a landslide while within the campgroud itself. Parts of the highway are notoriously steep, but the campground itself is in a wide, relatively-flat area.
Pfeiffer Big Sur SP camping reservations: This campground uses the Reserve California system. Here's a link to the www.ReserveCalifornia.com website. From Home Page, type "Pfeiffer Big Sur SP" and your camping dates, and you will be served a calendar showing the open campsites during that time frame. Dates with campsites still available will be marked GREEN on the park's calendar. Those dates marked with RED signify that all spaces have already been reserved for that day. If you'd like to take a look at a campground map before you make a reservation, here's a Pfeiffer Big Sur SP clear & concise campground map from the State Parks system. It's a PDF map, so that you can print up a copy and take it with you to use when hunting down your camping space. It's not necessarily as easy to find a particular campspot as you might think. While the map does look just like the park's true layout, it's missing all of the thick trees, the vacationers out for an evening stroll and the kids weaving around on bikes. It's a bit harder to find your individual campsite when actually inside the campground.
Big Sur Campgrounds -- Activities to enjoyHiking: Hiking trails abound in the Big Sur area, and trails may be accessed from the Limekiln campground, as well.
Another favorite place to hike is at the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park northwards up Highway 1 from Limekiln. (In the photo to your left, you see a hiking trail at the Julia Pfeiffer Burns park. However, this park is especially famous for its scenic waterfall.) If you'll be staying several days at the Limekiln campground, there's no reason why you couldn't hike both parks to enjoy the unique scenery in each one. For further information, here's a link to the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park section of the California Parks website.
For further information on where you can go to fish at Big Sur, what types of fish you can expect to catch, etc, you may discover that information on the
Los Padres National Forest official website.