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Big Sur's Best Campsites - Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

In October we decided to go check out what the hubbub was all about regarding the campground at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. Getting a reservation at this campground is extremely difficult because there are only two campsites and they are located right on a cliff at Big Sur. It's worth a try though if you want a front row seat at some of the most spectacular oceanfront scenery in the world!


The Park's namesake (Julia Pfeiffer Burns) was a pioneer and daughter of one of the first permanent settlers in Big Sur. She was about 1 years old when she arrived there with her parents in 1869. She married John Burns in 1915 and together they owned and operated a ranch on the land which became the Park.

The campground is located in a secluded area right along a cliff overlooking the coastline of Big Sur. The 2 (walk-in) campsites are in a large, flat area with pine trees providing some nice shade. Each site has a table and fire ring.

Julia_Pfeiffer_Burns_State_Park_Camping_Area_West_View Julia_Pfeiffer_Burns_State_Park_Campsite_001 Julia_Pfeiffer_Burns_State_Park_Campsite_002

The relatively flat walk/hike from the parking lot to the campsites is about ½ mile. The campground has a vault toilet, but there are flush toilets and a picnic area close to the parking lot.

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From the campground you can access a few nice hiking trails along the coast (to the south) and the Overlook Trail (north). The Overlook Trail offers amazing views of the beautiful McWay Falls/cove. Access to the cove/beach is not permitted. You can also hike up McWay Creek among redwood and oak trees. The trail along the creek will eventually take you up to 3000-foot ridges that offer panoramic views of the ocean and rugged coastline.

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Other activities and attractions at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park include whale watching (Dec-Jan and Mar-April), scuba diving between Partington Point and McWay Creek, visiting historic sites like the McWay Waterfall house site (the terrace is all that remains) and Pelton Wheel.

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Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is 37 miles south of Carmel and 12 miles south of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park on Highway 1. You can see the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park campsite photos here, and also some tips on how to make a reservation here.

Regards, Park Ranger


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