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 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 camping trip, we cover all you need to know for visiting and staying at Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground!
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Table Of Contents:
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 Location
Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground is located within Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park 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 the 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 accommodations 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 Amenities
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 throughout 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 the premises next to the Camp Store in South Camp.
What To Pack For Camping In Big Sur
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 leggings by The North Face that come with handy pockets for storing your phone! These tights are made of 80% recycled fabric 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 and warm sweaters.
- 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 Pfeiffer Big Sur 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’s 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 with a trunk that is 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.
Visiting Pfeiffer Beach
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 going 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
- 16 Best Places To Stay In Big Sur, California
- Staying At Kirk Creek Campground In Big Sur, California
- Best Campgrounds In California For a Camping Trip
- 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 game? Here is the camera gear that I carry everywhere I go to create amazing travel photos:
- Main camera: Sony a7c Camera. The Sony a7c is tiny, light, full-frame, and durable – in other words, amazing!
- Polarizer Filter: Hoya 40.5 mm Filter. Polarizing filters reduce glare in water, protect the lens from getting scratched, and bring out the best colors when it’s bright outside. Having a polarizing filter is a must-have if you plan to photograph lakes, oceans, rivers, and waterfalls.
- Wide Lens: Sony 16-35 mm F4. Great for capturing wide panoramas, nature landscapes, and cramped city streets. Mounts to any Sony mirrorless camera and features autofocus, image stabilization, and incredibly sharp images.
- Lightweight Travel Tripod: Manfrotto Carbon Fiber Tripod. A good tripod is essential for capturing images in low light conditions, such as during sunset and sunrise, or creating smooth water effects when shooting waterfalls. The Manfrotto Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod is very sturdy, light, and folds small so you can take it on all of your adventures!
- Memory Cards: SanDisk Extreme 256 GB. It’s always good to bring a few extra memory cards on trips. SanDisk Extreme is ultra-fast for capturing high-quality images, bursts, long exposure night shots, and 4k videos. This memory card is also durable and reliable yet very affordable.
- Camera Batteries: Wasabi Power Battery Set. I’ve made the mistake of getting to a location to realize my camera is out of battery. Always keep your batteries charged with this camera charger set.
- Camera Bag: Lowepro adventure shoulder bag. A camera bag is something you should definitely invest in! Without having a proper place to store it I would get my camera scratched, sandy, or even occasionally drop it.