This huge camp area is perfect for large groups (up to 15) and is at the edge of a large meadow ringed about by mountains, overlooking the ocean. There is a large fresh water pond for swimming (the only swimmable pond in the Big Sur area), and redwood groves within walking distance on a loop trail on the property. The camp kitchen is equipped with basic cooking utensils and dishes, with picnic tables and prep tables. There is a flushing toilet, and bundled firewood is for sale. Bring drinking water.
The land was a ceremonial ground for native America peoples for thousands of years. Beginning in the 1860s, it was the site of homestead activity, barley farming, and logging operations. People left the area during World War II, and in the 1960s, small groups of people returned to the land living in very basic styles.
In 1975, the Withrow family acquired the property. There is a small herd of goats, and a dooryard orchard.
Getting to Heart of the Wild is an adventure in and of itself (think long windy, dusty backroads), but it's well worth it! This huge camp area is...
This tiny studio on the veranda of the porch house is your private place to hang out, right next to where Betty lives in the ranch house. It can...
Overall it was great, I would come back. The host is really nice and friendly, she gave us peaches and plums from her garden, it seems like a full working farm. It’s clean, with strong amenities - a full blown kitchen and working toilet. The site is in relatively close proximity to the owner’s house.
Off the grid for sure. Long drive up to spot. Lots of space. Beautiful vista. Convenient to have bathroom, running, prep kitchen, etc. Bring bug repellent and a patient driver with a car that is not afraid to get dirty .
Heart of the Wild is all about seclusion, privacy, silence, shooting stars, redwoods, sunsets on the ocean, and goats. A music festival that hosted up to 400 people was used to take place there for a few years. And you'll have this large meadow for yourselves, as well as the old stage, which is pretty good to pitch a tent on!
The pond is at 3 minutes walking down the hill. There is also a nice 2-hour hike through the forest that you can do from the property. Thank you, Betty, we had a blast!
Betty was very nice, accommodating and welcoming. The view was beautiful from her land. I would recommend printing off directions beforehand (as Betty recommended to me). The road up to her house and Highway 1 does not have wi-fi (it takes about 45 miles outside of the turn off to find a city with wi-fi), so having directions prior is crucial. The road up there is tough at times, make sure you have car that can handle it. The drive will be worth it once you get to the top though! Thanks to Betty for your accommodations. :)
We had a really amazing long weekend at Heart of the Wild camp! Betty responded immediately after booking and met us upon arrival to her property to explain a few things. The space itself is perfect for a big group as no one else is around and you have so much room to have fun. The spring fed pond/lake was awesome and we brought plenty of floats to beat the midday heat and is a 2 min walk downhill. Other things we did were play bocce through the goat field, have some epic volleyball matches at the court down the road (bring plenty of beers in the cooler as it's a bit of a walk back to camp), set up badminton, and horseshoes in her pit. The camp kitchen has some cookware and utensils but we brought our own grill to cook breakfast and BBQ'd directly on the large fire pit both nights. Also, there is literally nothing but her house around the area so the stars on a clear night are unbelievable!
Some things to note: coming from HWY 1, the winding paved road takes 30-45mins on its own and then you drive on a rutted, dusty dirt road for another 30 minutes. We had 3 trucks and 3 cars do the trip and it was definitely not the easiest in the cars....like you might-get-stuck-up-there not easy. Additionally, this time of year the bugs were pretty awful. We had one person count 65 bug bites on her body the day after we got back and that was with plenty of bug spray, citronella, and a huge fire! Most of the property gets hit with the rising sun and has no morning shade so you will be up right at the crack of dawn, if not before by the goats that yell early. Another pain point was having to pack our own trash out for $300 per night as a group of 15 creates a lot of bulky recycling/waste.
Other than those quirks, it is an absolutely amazing place with space to breathe and fun to be had. Don't expect to the pace of life to move quickly and do not miss the stunning sunsets from in front of Betty's house! I'd definitely go again but would probably not return without a 4x4 truck or SUV.
Yes I enjoyed my trip to Betty's Studio in the Ranch House.
Don't rely on Google to get you there, print out the directions that she sends you. A 2WD vehicle with clearance is definitely a must, and driving in the dark or without half a tank of gas not recommended. The drive in is scenic, adventurous, remote, bumpy, gas consuming, and worth it.
Highlights: baskets of apples and the wood fueled hot-tub. Betty's orchard of ~3 apple trees were definitely in season and she freely shared the harvest with us. In the morning I went to go ask her if we could take her up on her offer for a hot bath. She happened to be in the very middle of stoking the fire for her own hot bath, but without a moment's hesitation suggested that we go first.
The experience involved an hour long drive on dirt roads up to a home-made group camp area with no less than 3 completely rusted through trucks, several panels of mostly working solar panels and extension cords running everywhere, paint buckets and random home construction gear strewn about. And all just to sleep on a very nice lady's porch-converted-guest room with no electricity nor potable water. Now if that sounds quirky/fun/adventurous, then book with Betty. We did and we are glad we did.
The room came (for us) with a Click-2-Cook mini stove, extra plates/bowls/silverware, a gallon jug, mattress and sheets, a table at which to sit and eat, candles and a few flashlights, tea and instant coffee, and some other small amenities.
Thanks, Betty, for a wonderful time!
Heart of the Wild is AMAZING!!! Private lake, great rope swing, beautiful views, and awesome host Betty. OH! And baby goats. It doesn't get better. Such a special place for a group to really connect in the nature. We were here for my best friend's birthday party and it was perfect. Can't wait to come back!!
Had a blast here. Its quite a ways from Big Sur but depending on your goals for the trip the combination of kitchen, bathroom, shower and pond are totally worth it. We only decided to leave for the day one time because we had such a good time there. The views from the top of the hill cannot be beaten. Betty was very nice and helpful but left us to ourselves just the right amount. My only recommendation is to not attempt to dump trash at Mill Creek since a ranger almost gave us a hefty fine.
...what a special place
We met capacity at Betty's group camp (and two more friends at Betty's cottage) and were very pleased with what amenities were offered. The size and beauty of the lake exceeded expectations. Awesome host, fun rope swing into the lake, and lots of space for tents, cars, and cooking!
I would definitely bring a group here again!