Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

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About Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

With its towering redwoods, vast ocean views and rugged charm, it’s no wonder that this park has been nicknamed “little Yosemite.” Nestled in the Santa Lucia mountains, Pfieffer Big Sur also features a plethora of animal life, ranging from black-tail deer to water ouzels. Hikers can enjoy the scenic trails or a self-guided nature trail.

Campgrounds in Pfeiffer Big Sur

Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground
Nate: We stayed at campsite 177 based on Sarah's recommendation and loved it. Right on the river, and within...


40 Reviews
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Hipcamper Nate

We stayed at campsite 177 based on Sarah's recommendation and loved it. Right on the river, and within a stones throw to the bathrooms. I would definitely check out the Valley View Trail nearby.

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Hipcamper Sarah

I loved this campground! Redwoods are everywhere and the river sites (171-179) were great. I was also envious of campers in the 140s sites that many were among a forest of Redwoods.

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Hipcamper Hipcamper

You can’t really go wrong with any of the campsites at Pfeiffer, but word on the street is that these are tops: 12, 10, 5, 21, 2, 73, 142, 146-148, 157, 164-165, 176, 179, and 182.

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Hipcamper Briana

A wonderful campground that's beginning to become much more popular. We camp annually and have to book/reserve our favorite site 6 months in advance. Great trails that you can walk to from the campground and wonderful hikes just a short drive away (10-20 min.)

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Hipcamper Brooke

AMAZING Campsite. Not the most private, but located on a river. We had site 052 (off the river) and it was great for 3 tents (6 people, 2 dogs). It's only a few miles from Pfieffer Beach. There's not a fire ban, which is great. Lots of families, noisy(ish) on weekend nights.

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Hipcamper Corina Rose

this is an extensive campground with nearly 200 sites! feel free to take a recommendation from one of the employees who check you in, or select a site yourself, depending on your preferences. sites closest to the BS River are $50/night, while others that are deeper in the redwoods are $35. with the river running right through the park itself and mammoth redwoods covering the place, this campground is a real treasure of the Big Sur Valley. well worth the time and money spent. just watch out for poison oak!

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Hipcamper Stef

Definitely book this spot in advance! Deep in the heart of the Redwoods, this car side camping was a blast for myself and 3 friends. The site was clean and quiet with minimal wildlife interaction. One of my friends (no camping experience) said that she felt so comfortable camping she would definitely do it again while my other friend (moderate experience) said she wished it was alittle more private and authentic camping feeling. This spot is a great balance for all experience campers who want to wake up under the canopy of redwoods.

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Hipcamper Mikey

We stayed in site 129, right across the street from the bathhouse and backs up to the river. The park is beautiful and the facilities are very clean and well maintained. Make sure to bring $1 bills for the show since the cost $1 for a 3-4 minute shower. If you forget or run out of beer the lodge gift shop has a good selection to offer.

Do yourself a favor and make sure to check out Big Sur Bakery on HWY 1!!!

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Hipcamper Hipcamper

Leaves of 3 let em’ be. Pfeiffer Big Sur has a fair amount of poison oak. It’s best to stay on trails.

Hipcamper Hipcamper

If you feel like a big workout leading to a wilderness hot spring, check out Sykes Hot Spring - it’s over 10 miles with lots ups and downs.

Hipcamper Hipcamper

If you still want to relax, but not put in that much work, check out the hot springs at the Esalen Retreat Center - they open to the public at 1am every night (they also have killer massage with a view)

Hipcamper Hipcamper

There are hot showers, no need to bring quarters, tokens can be purchased at the park in exchange for a hot shower.

Hipcamper Amanda

Gorgeous location! Stumbled across Big Sur Taphouse just down the street from this location and was not disappointed!

Hipcamper Anna

We were there over Presidents' Weekend (whale season) and ended up spending an entire afternoon watching pods of whales swim by - prettttty incredible. Keep an eye out!

Hipcamper Jonathan

Great spot in the midst of old-growth redwood groves soaring beside the Big Sur river. This spot is ideal for its proximity to famed Big Sur trailheads and Pfeiffer State Beach.

Hipcamper Peter

Located 26 miles south of Carmel, touring bicyclists and hike-in's will find a pleasant group campsite for $5 nightly. It features 5 separate tent areas, although room for another tent is ALWAYS assured. Nearby restrooms and showers. Great hikes, great bike rides. Temperatures are much warmer than on the coast (6 miles north on HWY 1). A hidden tour is the Big Sur Lighthouse (limited tours) about 8 miles north.

Hipcamper Bethany

Just booked Site 62...anyone know what this one looks like? We only have one tent and one car. Honeymooning in July along the PCH! There were only two spots left in this campground so I'm pretty excited.

Hipcamper Leah

Awesome campground. Massive redwoods, loads of wildlife, and beautiful sites nestled in the woods and along the river. Main camp is much nicer than the South Camp. Big Sur Lodge is well stocked, and check out Big Sur Bakery for great coffee, and Fernwood diner & deli for food, drinks, atm and wifi. Henry Miller library down the road is great for book nerds!
Make sure you do the Pfeiffer Falls hike, and if you're up for it, the Valley View. It's spectacular, but windy! The campfire centre here was built in the 30's, and is beautiful.
Firewood for sale at Ranger booth, along with $1 tokens for the mercifully hot showers. All in all, a great campground!

Hipcamper Chris

We stayed at campsites 135/136. These campsites were great! Right up against the river so you could hear the rushing water in the morning and night. Also right next to a set of bathrooms. Would recommend this campground to anyone.

Hipcamper Jonah

Camped under the redwoods, near the back of the campground. It's much quieter back there and the creek runs right alongside the tents. Wonderful all times of the year, including in the rain. Stayed in campsites #60 and #105 which were both shaded by redwoods and perfect for a relaxing visit.

Hipcamper Kerry

We camped here in September 2015 and really enjoyed the variety of nature available. You can walk, hike, or drive to the beach but can also walk to a really relaxing river. The river is almost better than the beach as it's not usually as crowded as those beautiful Big Sur beaches are in the high seasons. The bathrooms and showers are high society compared to other camp sites I've been to! There is definitely poison oak, so it would be hard to keep kids away from it, but it's easy to spot.

Loved the proximity of the sites as well: not too close to hear your neighbors, but not a really far walk if you want to camp with your friends and occupy a few spots. We had two down the "street" and it was only a 10 minute walk.

Hipcamper Nathan

Big sur! Its one of the coolest places but avoid the weekends and holidays.

Hipcamper Chris

Reserve far in advance! A short walk from road but AMAZING! Closest I have ever been to migrating whales and their calves.

Hipcamper Sully

Possible to overstay your welcome after the sun sets (it can be hard to find last minute camping in Big Sur!) but it always comes with the possibility that you'll get a knock on the door to ask you to get going.

Hipcamper Silas

Plan ahead, as of March 2017 the Pfeiffer Bridge collapsed and access to this area is very restricted.

Hipcamper Kristi

parts of the campground are beautiful, but parts of it are shoddy

Hipcamper nino

campsites too close to each other

Hipcamper Ishani

It was the quietest camp ground I've ever been to, surprisingly since it seems to always be packed. Reservations fill up months in advance but sometimes you can call and get lucky if someone cancels last minute!
There were a ton of trails and sites to see around the state park. We hiked up to Pfeiffer Falls and Valley View. Up hill for most of it but absolutely worth it. The redwoods are beautiful and the falls is so pretty.

Be aware though, there is tons of poison oak so make sure to scope out your site.

Hipcamper Julie

Traffic on Hwy 1 can be an obstacle.

Hipcamper katie

come early and try to snag one of the walk-in spots. $35 a night, not bad for big sur.

Hipcamper Kristin

Gorgeous, can't get enough of this place!

Hipcamper Kristin

Pfieffer Big Sur Campground allows you to be in the heart of nature among the redwoods (and near a river/stream) without having to hike in or be too removed from civilization. I loved being able to take a stroll on paved paths in the morning from our campground to the cafe for a latte.

Hipcamper Thomas

Andrew Molera State Park is nearby and totally great.

Hipcamper Christine

Big Sur is just one of those places.

Hipcamper Aly

The area is gorgeous, but restrooms are few and far between and campsites are very small and close together. There was almost no barrier between the edge of my site and that of my neighbors.

History of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

Early archaeological evidence of the Esselen and Rumsien (also known as Costanoan) presence on the Central Coast dates back about 8,000 years. Though physical remnants of these prehistoric Native Americans have not been well documented, a few items discovered in the area - projectile points, bedrock mortars and various shells - have been attributed to them. Esselen and Rumsien people still live in the Big Sur area, where they honor and practice the traditions of their ancestors.

In 1834, Governor José Figueroa granted acreage to Juan Bautista Alvarado. Alvarado’s El Sur Rancho stretched from the River Chiquito del Sur (in today’s Carmel Valley) to below the Big Sur River.

Mexico ceded California to the U.S. in 1848, at the end of the Mexican-American War. Beginning around 1862, the area was settled by people whose names—Pfeiffer, Partington, Post, Gamboa—are still found on local street signs and businesses.

The park’s Manuel Peak was named for a member of the Chumash tribe, Immanuel Innocente, head cattle wrangler at El Sur Rancho. In 1868, Innocente moved his family north from San Buenaventura to the Big Sur area. That year they bought property along the river in what is now the park.

Michael and Barbara Pfeiffer arrived here in 1869, settling at the mouth of Sycamore Canyon to ranch, farm and keep bees. Their son, John, lived along the Big Sur River, near the site of the Homestead cabin.

In the early 20th century, a developer offered to buy some of John Pfeiffer’s land, planning to build a subdivision. Pfeiffer refused. Instead, he sold 680 acres—which became the nucleus of today’s park—to the State of California in 1933.

The Great Depression was in full force in the early 1930s. One of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first official acts was to create the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The CCC employed young men to develop recreational areas and conserve natural resources. From 1933 to 1942, nearly 2.5 million CCC corpsmen built roads, trails and structures in more than 800 state and federal parks and planted nearly three billion trees.

The men here at CCC Camp S.P. 12 built campgrounds, buildings, fences, a footbridge and trails in this park. Their wood and stone “park rustic” style used redwood lumber and river rocks as building materials. Between construction jobs, they tackled fires and problematic poison oak.