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Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park Campground

Google Map Coordinates: Latitude: 36.094332 / Longitude: -121.619196

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park Camping Guide Continued

The photos for Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park have been updated (November 2013) and correctly reflect the new campsite numbers.

The park is bordered by redwood and oak forests, chaparral slopes of the Santa Lucia Mountains. Wildlife includes fox, raccoons, skunks, and birds, such as American dippers and belted kingfishers. Though the park it lies along Highway 1, it is well inland in the Big Sur River Valley, not along the coast.

The campground offers 184 campsites which are on the valley floor through which the Big Sur River flows. A limited amount of overnight enroute camping MAY be available 5pm to 9am, when the campground is full, for self-contained vehicles only.

Find both RV campsites and tent campsites at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park's campgrounds. All sites offer access to showers and bathrooms, and there is a convenience store nearby to serve all your needs.

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park now offers AT&T Wi-Fi Service! This service enables park visitors with wireless enabled laptop computers or personal digital assistants (PDAs) to access the Internet. Park visitors will be able to gain Wi-Fi access when they use a wireless device within about 150 to 200 feet of the Camp Store located in the park.

Seasons/Climate/Recommended Clothing - The weather can be changeable. Layered clothing is advised.

Location – Directions

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park
831 667-2315
Big Sur CA 93920

The park is located 26 miles south of Carmel on Highway One.

Points of Interest & Attractions

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park offers miles of Big Sur hiking trails, including a self-guided nature trail. Stop for lunch at a picnic area, or at the Big Sur Lodge Restaurant located within the park. The Big Sur River, which runs through the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, is a pleasant place for swimming. Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park also has many nature programs; check to see if there are any guided hikes or other events scheduled.


Hikers can enjoy the many scenic trails, including a self-guided nature loop. Park has 8 miles of hiking trails; 210 miles of hiking trails in the nearby Ventana Wilderness (USFS) BE ADVISED: Several trails in the State Park and Ventana Wilderness remain closed due to fire and flood damage. Overlooks provide spectacular views of the Big Sur Valley and the Big Sur River Gorge.

Valley View Trail to Pfeiffer Falls Overlook and Valley Overlook
From Big Sur Lodge to Pfeiffer Falls via Valley View, is 3 miles round trip with 200-foot elevation gain

For most visitors, 'Big Sur' means Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. The state park–and its brief but popular trail system–is dominated by the Big Sur River, which meanders through redwood groves on its way to the Pacific Ocean, five miles away.

John Pfeiffer, for whom the park was named, homesteaded 160 acres of mountainous terrain between Sycamore Canyon and the Big Sur River. In 1884, he moved into a cabin perched above the Big Sur River Gorge. (You can see the reconstructed 'Homestead Cabin,' which is located on the park's Gorge Trail.) John Pfeiffer sold and donated some of his ranchland to the state in the 1930s, and it became the nucleus of the state park.

This walk, which follows the Valley View Trail, is suitable for the whole family. The trail visits Pfeiffer Falls and offers a good introduction to the delights of this state park. The hike, though steep in sections, rewards you with an excellent view of Pfeiffer Falls and the redwoods located in the creeks canyons.

Directions to trailhead: Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is located off Highway 1, some 26 miles south of Carmel and two miles south of the hamlet of Big Sur. Beyond the entry booth, turn left at the stop sign, then veer right (uphill). Very soon, you'll find some day use parking. A much larger parking area is located near the store and restaurant at the bottom of the hill.

The hike: From the signed trailhead, follow the trail to Pfeiffer Falls. Very shortly, on your left, you'll spot a trail heading left to Valley View. Cross the bridge at the creek and continue up the hill. You will come to an intersection. To the left takes you to the Valley Overlook. To the right, the trail continues to Pfeiffer Falls.

You will be crossing two small bridges and then you will ascend steps that take you to a boulder-lined viewing area below the falls. The original platform above destroyed by the 2008 Basin Complex fire. On the return trip, backtrack to the intersection. Going left takes you back to the trailhead, straight ahead and you and follow the trail along a minor ridge to a lookout. The Pacific Ocean pounding the Point Sur headlands and the Big Sur River Valley are part of the view. Backtrack along Valley View Trail to return to the trailhead.

The Pfeiffer Falls Trail and sections of the Oak Grove Trail, damaged in the 2008 Basin Complex Fire remain closed at this time. Check with the Entrance Station for the latest conditions.

Whale Watching

In December and January the bench at the end of Overlook trail is an excellent place to watch for gray whales migrating southward to their breeding and calving grounds off the Baja California coast. Many whales pass close to shore at this point and occasionally one will come into the mouth of the cove. In March and April, they can be seen returning north to their summer feeding grounds in the North Pacific.

Sea otters can sometimes be seen in the cove, and harbor seals and California sea lions are occasional visitors. Many sea and shore birds - Sleek black cormorants, seagulls, brown pelicans, and black oystercatchers also make an appearance.

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