Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground is a stunning campground in a rugged section of the Central California coastline and one of the most epic stops along the Highway 1 route. Here campers have the opportunity to unwind and relax at spacious campsites scattered amongst ancient redwood trees which is a dream come true for any nature lover in California.
This campground is located next to serene redwood trails and is just a short drive from scenic beaches like Pfeiffer Beach. With a limited campsite and hotel options in the Big Sur region, Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground offers a centrally located & convenient place to stay for those on a road trip between LA and San Francisco.
If you’re up for a good road trip, we cover all you need to know for visiting and camping at Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground!
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Know Before You Go
Before you head out on a road trip of a lifetime, here are some important visitor tips to keep in mind:
- All campsites at Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground work on a reservation basis. Without a reservation, you’re likely to be turned away so plan accordingly. For self-contained RV’s they do offer a one-night parking option at the Day Use Area.
- The current fee is $35 for a standard campsite and $50 for a premium riverfront campsite. We stayed in the standard campsite which was very spacious and surrounded by giant redwood trees and oak woodlands.
- It costs a small fee to come to enjoy this campground as a day visitor. There are many free activities to enjoy in Big Sur but if you’re interested in having a picnic at this campground or hiking one of its trails (and you’re not staying here), it costs $10 for day use.
- There is little to no reception along Highway 1. Be sure to look up campground directions and download reservation details ahead of time.
- This campground does allow dogs, but only at the campsites and in certain areas like paved roads and paths. While dogs are not allowed on most of the trails at Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground, we had our dog with us while camping here and there were plenty of places to take him for a walk.
- Bring small bills of cash for items like firewood and shower tokens.
About Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground
Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground is quite large compared to other campgrounds that we’ve stayed at in California. This scenic campground offers 189 tent and RV sites along with restrooms, showers, a restaurant on-premises, a couple of camp stores where you can buy camping goods, and even a laundromat.
With gorgeous trails, plenty of picnic areas, and a turquoise blue river running through the campground, there is plenty to do here to keep you occupied for a couple of days’ stay.
This is by far one of the nicest State Park campgrounds that we’ve stayed at in California, comparable to camping in top National Parks like Yosemite.
Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground is one of the most sought-after campsites in the Big Sur region so to stay here you will need to book a reservation well in advance (like 6 months or more). If you don’t mind traveling in the off-season like spring and fall, you can often find campsites much easier outside of the busy summer months.
On our most recent trip, we stayed here in October and were able to book a campsite just a few weeks ahead of our trip. The weather was still great – not too hot in the daytime and not too chilly at night.
Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground is located off the famous Highway 1 that travels along the rugged Big Sur coastline. It’s about a 5–6 hour drive from Los Angeles but the drive often takes much longer due to windy roads and jaw-dropping viewpoints that you’ll want to check out along the way.
Coming from North, this campground is about an hour’s drive from Monterey and 3 hours from San Francisco.
Keep in mind that once you head onto Highway 1, there is little to no reception and no major towns in between. It’s best to stock up on whatever you may need for your road trip and camping ahead of time.
Campground Address: Pfeiffer Big Sur Rd, Big Sur, CA 93920
Big Sur Lodge
If you want to head on a relaxing getaway (but skip the “roughing it” part), you also have the option to stay at the Big Sur Lodge which is located next to the campground. Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is one of the few State Parks that offers alternative accommodation to standard campsites.
Spacious rooms with vaulted ceilings, fully equipped kitchens, and a heated swimming pool make the Big Sur Lodge the perfect place to play and unwind.
Several of the rooms come with wood-burning fireplaces that offer a cozy place to curl up with loved ones. When the weather is warm, you’ll want to spend the mornings enjoying a cup of coffee on the spacious outdoor deck or shared porch that comes with most cottages.
And the best part – none of the rooms come with TVs, alarm clocks, or phones for the ultimate relaxation getaway!
Food At Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground
Don’t feel like cooking yet craving something delicious? Homestead Restaurant is a cozy restaurant located within the campground that is open to everyone whether you’re staying at the lodge or camping in a tent.
With a comfort-driven menu, craft beers, local California wines to choose from, and excellent service, this restaurant does not disappoint! Surrounded by majestic redwood trees and the Big Sur River, dining at the Homestead Restaurant is quite a unique experience.
The inviting outdoor patio is decked out with charming twinkle lights and warm heaters so you can cozy up on chillier nights. If you’re extra hungry, try the Wagyu Cheeseburger that is so tender and simply melts in your mouth. For lighter fare, they offer plenty of starters to choose from including Pork Belly Bites and Loaded Truffle Fries.
If you want to bring your four-legged friend, the Homestead Restaurant allows seating with dogs on their back patio.
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Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground offers plenty of amenities to make your stay as comfortable as possible. Here are some of the highlights of the campground:
- Each campsite comes with a picnic table and a fire pit. If you don’t have your own firewood, you can purchase it for $12 from several locations at the campground including the two camp stores on the property. There is also a truck that goes around selling firewood – it doesn’t get more convenient than that!
- There are multiple easily accessible restrooms through the campground that also have showers with hot water. A shower token costs $1 which will provide you with hot running water for 5 minutes. Tip: the shower starts as soon as you insert the token and will stop abruptly when time is up without a warning so be sure to rinse off soap earlier in the showering process.
- There are two camp stores on the property in case you need camping supplies or want to grab some beer or wine to enjoy around the campfire.
- If you’re a long-term traveler, you will be happy to find out that there is a laundromat on premises next to the Camp Store in South Camp.
What To Pack
The weather in Big Sur is mild and temperate all year long which makes it a great year-round destination. Even winter temperatures stay above 40 degrees so camping at Big Sur in the cooler seasons can be comfortable with plenty of warm weather clothing.
For clothing I packed:
- Leggings. I love these sleek tights that are part of the Destination Wanderland collection by Stronger. These leggings are made of recycled materials and have a flattering cut that hugs the waist yet the material is super stretchy for comfort and movement.
- Hiking shoes. I’m pretty clumsy so I prefer wearing hiking shoes with extra grip that prevent me from slipping & falling. But any walking shoes will do it for the easier hikes.
- Socks. I like merino wool socks because they wick away moisture and regulate temperature to prevent your feet from sweating.
- Cozy sweater. While the evening campfire can keep you plenty warm, the mornings do tend to be a bit chilly so bring cozy layers like this Snug Sweater.
- Warm jacket. It can get cold and windy at night by the coast. I used my Mountain Hardwear jacket for hanging around the campfire and heading to the restroom at night.
- Sports Bag. I have a lightweight sports pack from Stronger that fits all my essentials, water, and camera gear.
Before heading out on any trails in Big Sur be sure to bring the basics:
- Hydroflask is my go-to refillable water bottle for outdoor trips like this because it will keep your water cold in the summer and hot drinks warm when the temperatures start dropping.
- Bug Spray. The Big Sur River that runs through the property attracts many mosquitos so come prepared with bug spray.
- Sunscreen. This is an absolute must for traveling in California. It’s easy to get sunburned even on foggy coastal days.
- Sunglasses. Polarized sunglasses will help battle the harsh sunlight and reduce glare reflected off roads when driving on these windy highways.
- Headlamp. Whether I’m heading out on a day hike or an overnight camping trip, I always bring a headlamp with me.
- Portable phone charger. It’s always a good idea to bring a phone charger just in case your phone runs out of battery mid-hike.
- Emergency kit. REI sells compact lightweight emergency kits that are easy to bring in a day pack.
While this is a compact list with a few of the basic items, we do have longer packing articles that dive into more details!
For car travelers: Check our guide covering all the essentials that we bring for road trips in our car.
For van travelers: Check out our guide covering 85 essentials that we bring for road trips in our campervan.
Things To Do At The Campground
Whether you’re in the mood for a relaxing weekend or want to dive into a fun adventure, Pfeiffer Campground has you covered. Here are a few fun activities to do at the campground:
- Go for a relaxing walk. There are many easy family-friendly paths throughout the entire campground spanning in all directions. Many of these trails include informative signs about Big Sur history, geology, trees, and climate.
- Explore the Redwood Deck. The redwood deck is a small area near the restaurant that has a cluster of giant redwood trees. Coastal Redwoods are some of the tallest trees on Earth and here you can roam along wooden paths that travel next to them. The Pacific Coast is the only place in the world where you can see redwood trees in their native habitat.
- Stop by the Colonial Tree. The Colonial tree is a notable redwood tree by the Day-Use 4 parking lot. This tree is the largest redwood tree in the park at 31 feet in diameter.
- Hike to Valley View Overlook. The Valley View Overlook is a short 1.8-mile long hike that starts in a beautiful redwood forest and goes up to a viewpoint of Big Sur Valley and the surrounding forest.
- Hike the Buzzard’s Roost Trail. If you’re looking for a more challenging day hike, Buzzard’s Roost Trail is a popular 2.6-mile-long hike that starts at the campground and leads to an overlook with sweeping views at the top.
If you’re looking to spend the afternoon on the coast, the closest beach access to the Pfeiffer Campground can be found at Pfeiffer Beach just a 10-minute drive from the campground.
It costs $12 to visit Pfeiffer Beach for the day and there is a designated day-use area that includes a paved parking lot, restrooms, and access to a trail that leads down to the shoreline.
Within a short walk, you can reach the beach where you can walk around, lounge in the sand, go swimming, surfing and check out the Keyhole Arch rock formation.
Pfeiffer Beach consists of jagged rocks and a long strand of beach that continues along the northern shore. Most people hang out near the entrance but if you keep going to the right, you might find parts of the beach all to yourself.
This beach is not part of the California State Parks so dogs on leash are allowed on the beach.
Places To Eat Nearby
While there are no major towns along the Highway 1 route in-between San Simeon and Monterey, you can still find a variety of upscale restaurants and local cafes nearby. Here are some noteworthy restaurants within a short drive from the campground:
Camping in Big Sur is something that most people dream of when traveling down the scenic Highway 1 route. This rugged coastline drive offers excellent opportunities for unwinding in pristine nature and go on relaxing hikes through ancient California forests.
Looking for more California travel inspiration? Be sure to check out some of our popular California travel posts below:
- 15 Incredible Things To See & Do On a Big Sur Road Trip
- 10 Best Places To Stay In Big Sur For a Coastal Experience
- Staying At Kirk Creek Campground In Big Sur, California
- 7 Incredible Day Hikes At Joshua Tree National Park
- 6 Easy Death Valley Hikes That You Shouldn’t Miss
Interested in stepping up your photography skills? Here is the camera gear that I use and recommend to create amazing travel photos:
- Main camera: Sony a7II Camera With 28-70 mm Standard Lens
- Polarizer Filter for the standard lens (helps eliminate reflection and enhance color, especially on super bright days): Amazon Basics 55 mm
- Wide Lens (great for nature shots): Sony 16-35 mm F4
- Polarizer Filter for the wide lens: Amazon Basics 72 mm
- Small Tripod (to stabilize photos and eliminate blur): JOBY Gorrilapod
- Memory Cards: SanDisk 32 GB
- Batteries: Sony Battery Charger Set
- Camera Bag: Lowepro weather-resistant bag