- Andrew Molera State ParkBig Sur Station #1, Big Sur, CA 93920recommended Andrew Molera State ParkWhat a great all-around park! Excellent hiking trails, wild beaches, stunning vistas of the Big Sur coastline, a pristine clear water river and a backcountry adjacent to Central California's only ... read moreFederally-declared coastal wilderness. Wild and beautiful, Andrew Molera is a great spot for visitors of all kinds as it is easily accessible, has a wide range of user facilities, and a much more navigable terrain than most of Big Sur (a portion of the entry area is on a floodplain - so it's completely flat). The trail system here is especially good, featuring loop trails that can be completed in under two hours, a breathtaking coast to ridge loop that takes 4-5 hours, and trail heads into the Ventana backcountry, where you can trek on for days without seeing another human. Oh, and one last thing, I'm no fly fisherman, but I hear the Big Sur river here is good for steelhead!Arlo Hemphill
Andrew Molera also has a decent campground, and the park is an excellent place to explore. It has great beach and one of my favorite loop trails in all of Big Sur - perfect day hike. The campground is also near town if you wanted to run in for a bite to eat or a few drinks!
- Pat's Spring Ventana Wilderness, Californiarecommended Pat's SpringGorgeous overlook campground in the far backcountry of the Ventana wilderness. One of the most beautiful single spots to sleep for the night in all of California!Arlo Hemphill
Most of the campsites in Big Sur are "easy", meaning you can drive right up and enjoy the sights and sounds of the wild with little effort. However, if you are looking for something a little more adventurous, this is an amazing backcountry campsite in Big Sur's Ventana Wilderness. Access the site via the trail system at Botcher's Gap - it's a 1/4 to 1/2 day hike just to get there, but the rewards are amazing!
- Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park47225 California 1, Big Sur, CArecommended Pfeiffer Big Sur State ParkPossibly California's perfect park. Pfeiffer Big Sur has a little of everything you might want from a California wilderness experience - giant redwoods, dramatic Pacific coastline, both easy access ... read moreand rugged backcountry trails, log cabin lodge facilities with nearby mountain restaurants & shops, and a clear water river with swimming holes and river-side camp sites. Wedged between protected Pacific waters and the extensive Ventana Wilderness, this spot is unique in providing easy coastal access to truly wild country. Local denizens include sea otters, sea lions, harbor seal, coyotes, mountain lion, rattlesnakes, black-tail deer and even the magnificent California condor! It's amazing so much can be in one spot - truly one of America's natural treasures.Arlo Hemphill
Almost any place you choose in Big Sur is bound to not disappoint you. However, this is one of my favorite campgrounds because you can camp right alongside the river at the base of the canyon. Hike up the boulders into the canyon and there are many nice swimming holes to enjoy in a gorgeous setting. This is the perfect time of year for it too!
- Kirk Creek CampgroundHwy 1, Big Sur, CArecommended Kirk Creek CampgroundThis is possibly the most beautiful campground in California. It sits perched on a cliff above the ocean, with spectacular views in both directions of mountains cascading to the sea. It is a short ... read morewalk down a path to a rocky beach. In the last year they stopped offering running water here (apparently because the insurance costs of the manual treatment were too high), so you need to bring your own. There is a little grocery store about 10 mins north on the highway 1 where you can buy some. You can also drive 5 mins up the road to Limekiln State Park where you can take showers and get water.
- Limekiln State ParkBig Sur, CArecommended Limekiln State ParkAmazing state park. There are some amazing hikes through giant redwoods, over gurgling creeks to a beautiful waterfall. You can camp here - though the layout is a bit odd, with a lot of the sites on ... read morethe main hiking trail which gets a lot of hikers during the day. Good thing is they have running water and showers (bring quarters) here. The beach here is uninspiring, especially given the amazing options nearby (see Pfeiffer Burns or San Dollar).