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Pets allowed
Allowed
Guided tours
No
Backcountry camping
No
Lodging
No
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Located in the heart of northern Big Sur on the forested floor of the Big Sur River Valley, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is one of California’s best kept state parks and an ideal base from which to explore the Big Sur coastline. The park is home to Big Sur’s largest public campground, diverse hiking trails, the rustic yet comfortable Big Sur Lodge, and over 3 miles of Big Sur River access, including the swimming holes of the Big Sur River Gorge.

Not to be confused with Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park 11.5 miles south, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is one of the few destination areas in Big Sur that isn't focused on the coast itself. The park is oriented around the Big Sur River and the adjacent slopes of the Santa Lucia mountains. Popular trails include Valley View and Pfeiffer Falls, Buzzards Roost, and the trails at Pine Ridge, all of which feature the geography of the mountains and ridges. The Gorge Trail leads to crystal swimming holes in a narrow gorge roughly a half mile up the Big Sur River, a perfect respite for warm summer days.

The river valley is a forest shaded by redwood groves, alder, maple, sycamore, willow, and conifers. Above the valley floor the slopes and ridges give way to the chaparral ecosystem that is typical of Coastal California. Deer, squirrel, skunks, raccoons, and various bird species are common, and you may see the occasional bobcat or traces from a mountain lion.

With nearly 200 campsites, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park Campground is Big Sur’s most popular campground. The Big Sur Lodge also offers higher-end accommodations and a restaurant. The park can draw quite a crowd on weekends and holidays, so if you are planning an overnight visit, reservations are strongly recommended.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

State Park Fee

Pros

Centrally located for exploring Big Sur. River access. Redwoods.

Cons

Campground can get crowded.

Features

ADA accessible
Showers
Amphitheater
Flushing toilets
Bicycling
Potable water
Picnic tables
Waterfalls
Bird watching

Location

Field Guide + Map

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