Nestled approximately 150 miles south of San Francisco along the Scenic Highway One, BIG SUR is an expansive, 90-mile stretch of stunning coastline situated between Carmel and San Simeon. At one point, Big Sur was originally known for its redwood lumbering instead of its hiking trails, camping, waterfalls and other outdoor activities we associate with the area today. Thankfully, in 1937 the completion of the Scenic Highway One allowed for easier access for visitors to witness the incredible beauty Big Sur has to offer. Whether you're looking to pass through for lunch or spend a weekend camping under the redwoods, Big Sur is the perfect destination for a relaxing adventure along the California coast.
CAMPING in Big Sur is an experience in itself and is perfect throughout the year. Visiting in the winter months is the perfect time to explore Big Sur since the tourist population is much lower than the spring and summer months. Luckily, the winters are quite mild thanks to the Pacific Ocean to the west and the San Lucia Mountains to the east. It's also wise to pack warm and cold weather clothing when visiting the area due to early morning fog or rain followed by sunny afternoons.
PRO-TIP: Bring plenty of clothing layers to add on or take off throughout the day due to consistent weather changes.
When deciding on the CAMPGROUNDS within Big Sur, there are plenty of options to choose from that range from inexpensive to pricey. Pictured above is a campsite in the Ventanna Campground which is a stunning option if you're willing to pay a higher nightly fee. The amenities are ample, campsites are immaculate, camp hosts are incredibly friendly and there are clean showers and restrooms to choose from during your stay. It's also a fairly painless process of booking your campsite, you can just visit their website and reserve directly through the neighboring resort.
Cheaper camping options, which are still incredible, can be reserved through ReserveCalifornia.com include:
HIKING in Big Sur includes plenty of choices depending on what you're hoping to see and experience. Pictured above is the Buzzard's Roost Trail hike, which is approximately 4.9 miles roundtrip and can be accessed from parking in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. You only need to pay the entrance fee once and then you're able to visit the other state parks within Big Sur at no additional charge.
For even more hiking options to choose from, feel free to visit the Big Sur Chamber of Commerce website for additional day hikes in the area.
McWay Falls and Bixby Bridge are easily the two most identifiable spots in Big Sur that you've probably seen all over Instagram or pictured on travel blogs. Both are quick stops and neither are difficult to get to unless the are a ton of tourists jamming into the area.
McWAY FALLS is located further south in Big Sur and includes a very short "hike", err walk, to the scenic overlook from the McWay Waterfall House. If possible, park in the designated Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park lot on the west side of the Scenic Highway One and head towards the McWay Falls Trailhead after you park your car. You'll make a short walk along a trail that will go under the Scenic Highway One through a tunnel that will open up to the tranquil oasis a short distance ahead. If you've already purchased a state park day use pass, you'll be fine parking in the lot. If the lot is full, parking along the Scenic Highway One is another option but use extreme caution when exiting / entering your vehicle along the shoulder. Also, make sure to check any parking restrictions in the area.
BIXBY BRIDGE is another quick and easy site to see as you're passing through Big Sur. There are small turnouts along the Scenic Highway One that can be used or you can park along the shoulder and take a careful walk along the highway before taking a photo at the overlook. The well know picture you've seen everywhere is from the north side of the bridge from either the west or the east side of the Scenic Highway One and can be accessed from Castle Rock Viewpoint.
Have you been to Big Sur? If so, share your tips and/or suggestions below in the comments section.
Till the next adventure.
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