Open 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset.
Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park
ABOUT PFEIFFER BIG SUR STATE PARK
On the western slope of the Santa Lucia Mountains, the peaks of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park tower high above the Big Sur River Gorge, where the Big Sur River enters this popular park. Walk along the banks of the river and among the redwoods, conifers, oaks, sycamores, cottonwoods, maples, alders and willows. A large campground accommodates hikers, bikers, car campers and RVers. Many campsites are located along the Big Sur River. Wildlife includes bobcats, black-tail deer, gray squirrels, raccoons, skunks, and birds, such as dippers and belted kingfishers. Hikers can enjoy many scenic trails, including a self-guided nature trail. Big Sur Lodge is located in the park .The lodge has 61 guest rooms, a conference center, cafe, and a grocery store.
CHECK CURRENT WEATHER
The weather can be changeable. Layered clothing is advised. In winter, overnight temperatures can range in the 30s-50s (Fahrenheit). Winter daytime temperatures can be low 50s-mid 70s. In summer, overnight temperatures can range in the 50s-70s, with daytime temperatures typically in the 70s-80s. Summer mornings bring fog, which usually burns off by midday.
Near mile marker 47.2 on Highway 1, the park is located 26 miles south of Carmel.
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$10 per car, per day. Your entrance fee allows you access to all California state parks until sundown.
Senior Citizen Discount: Age 62 or older, $1.00 off, except busses over 9 passenger capacity.
Disabled Discount Pass Holders: $5
Tour Buses: $50 (10-24 people), $100 (25+ people)
State Parks Pass holders must present pass at kiosk upon entry to park.
The park is open to day use visitors a half hour before sunrise to half hour after sunset. The entrance kiosk opens at 9:00 am. Kiosk closing times are variable. Visitors are expected to self-register when the kiosk is closed.
Motor vehicles must observe the posted speed limit of 10mph throughout the park.
Parking within the park is permitted only in designated lots and campsites.
There are a number of family picnic areas in the park, many next to the Big Sur River. Charcoal grills are available. Also, three reservable group picnic sites with grills and tables can accommodate up to 100-125 people per site. To reserve a group picnic site, contact the Special Events Coordinator at 831-667-0507 or BigSurEvents@parks.ca.gov.
Dogs are not allowed on any State Park trails, but they are allowed in the picnic day use areas, campground and on paved roads throughout the park. Dogs must be on a leash at all times. Do not leave your dog unattended at any time. See DOGS IN BIG SUR for more information on where to take your dog.
Service Dogs: California State Parks promotes and supports equal access for park visitors of all abilities. Download the publication Service Animals in State Parks for more information.
Cool off in the Big Sur River. Hike to swimming holes in the Gorge, or camp at one of our premium riverfront campsites. Swimming in the Big Sur River has been a popular family activity for over 75 years. Diving head or feet first in the Big Sur River is not permitted.
Bicycles and Scooters
Bicycles and scooters are alllowed on the paved roads of the park only, not on trails. Children under 18 years old are required to wear helmets while riding anything with wheels.
There are a number of trails in the park. See the Trails section below for more information.
Ernst Ewoldsen Nature Center
Located along the Warden’s Path on the south side of the Big Sur River. Open for visitors Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 a.m.– 2:00 p.m. Come discover what lives here in the park!
Around June 15, two temporary seasonal footbridges are installed to allow pedestrians to cross the Big Sur River. Bridges are removed around October 31. The exact dates are determined by the Department of Fish and Game each year.
Freshwater and ocean fishing in the Big Sur area is highly restricted. Catch and release steelhead fishing in the Big Sur River is allowed only under certain conditions in the winter. Call the Department of Fish & Wildlife's Steelhead Fishing Hotline at 831-649-2886 for the current status of fishing in the Big Sur River and other Big Sur coast streams. See Department of Fish and Wildlife Fishing Regulations for more information.
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More than 175 RV and tent sites are situated on or near the Big Sur River. Two group tent sites and a hike/bike site are also available to campers, but no RVs are allowed in these sites. There is a Campfire Center that offers evening programs on the weekends during peak season.
Pfeiffer Big Sur is an extremely popular campground. Reservations fill up seven months in advance, even in the winter. Online reservations are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at Reserve America. Reservations can be made six months in advance on the first day of the month beginning at 8:00 am PST. You may also call toll free 1-800-444-7275. Due to seasonal volume, access to the Reserve America website and telephone line may be limited at times, especially on the first day of the month when sites become available.
Standard site: $35/night
Premium Riverfront site: $50/night
Additional one-time fee for RVS or trailers with on-board lavatory: $10
En Route overnight parking: $35 (One night only, parking in Day Use Lots 3 and 4 for self-contained RVs with onboard flush toilets only, 5:00 pm - 9:00 am)
Hike and Bike site: $5/night (hikers and bikers must arrive on foot or by bike, they cannot have a vehicle. Hike and Bike stay is limited to two consecutive nights)
Senior Citizen Discount: Age 62 or older, $2.00 off all campsites except Hike/Bike.
Disabled Discount Pass Holders: 50% off regular Standard or Premium site rate
Additional Motor Vehicle: $10/night
Standard and Premium Riverfront camping fee includes entry for one vehicle and one towed vehicle or trailer. Additional vehicles will be charged per night. Maximum number of people per site is eight. Minors under 18 must have guardian authorization. There is no limit to the number of tents as long as they are contained within the boundary of the campsite and not on vegetation. All equipment, including trailers, extra vehicles, awnings, pop-outs and slideouts must fit within the parking boundary. During peak season, this park has a maximum stay limit of seven consecutive nights. Once the stay limit has been reached, the persons, equipment, and/or vehicles must vacate the campground for at least 48 hours before returning for another stay. Maximum length of stay per calendar years is 30 days.
Each campsite includes a parking area for at least one car, a fire pit with half-grill and picnic table. No hookups are provided at any site. Fresh water, hot showers and toilets are a short walk.
All incoming campers must check in at the entrance kiosk. Camper vehicles must display vehicle tag (proof of reservation) in the windshield. Vehicle tags are also valid for day use entrance into other area state parks.
Check-in is 2:00 pm. Check-out is 12:00 noon.
Any discount pass must be presented at the time of check in. Visitors reserving accessible campsites must possess a DMV Disabled Placard or license plates issued by DMV (or similar agency of another state). A Disabled Veterans license plate will also be accepted when reserving or occupying an accessible campsite. At the time of check-in, visitors must show the DMV placard. The disabled visitor must be an occupant of the site for the entire reservation period. No refunds will be issued for invalid reservations.
All campsites at Pfeiffer Big Sur are on a reservation system. Everyday during peak season, the campground is usually entirely reserved (booked 6 months in advance). Occasionally there may be cancellations that allow some day-of sites to be available. To get a day-of campsite (also known as a walk-up campsite), you must be physically present at the park's entrance kiosk. Day-of sites cannot be reserved over the phone, nor can information about site availability be obtained by calling. If you would like to try to get a walk-up site, it is best to be at the entrance kiosk when it opens at 9:00 am. At times of high demand, a waiting list may be created.
Hot showers are token-operated. Campers may purchase tokens at the entrance kiosk or at select bathroom locations throughout the campground. 1 token = $1.00 = 3.5 minutes of shower time. Showers are available to registered campers only.
Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park has a dump station that includes potable water for freshwater tank fills. All RVs and trailers with on-board bathrooms that are camping within the park must pay a one-time additional fee of $10 whether they use the dump station or not. Non-campers wishing to use the dump station may do so for a fee of $10.
Two Group Campsites are available from mid-June through mid-October by reservation.These walk-in sites are for larger groups with tents only. Group campsites feature a large camping area, fire ring, potable water, picnic tables, flush toilets, and access to one small amphitheater (seats 50 people). There are no showers. Campers may use the pay showers in the main campground of the park. Minimum number of people is 9, maximum number of people is 35. There is no vehicle access to the group campsites. Campers park on the west side of Highway 1 and walk in to the campground (approximately 1/4 mile) across the Big Sur River on a seasonal wooden footbridge. No trailers or motorhomes can be used at this site. There are no dogs allowed at the campsite.
Check in is at the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park entrance kiosk. Both group camps are 1/4 mile north of the entrance of the park, west of Highway 1 and southwest of the Big Sur River. Parking is on the side of Highway 1. Each reservation includes parking passes for 10 vehicles. Additional vehicles are charged per night at the park.
All weddings, receptions, welcome dinners, etc. at Group Camp must have a Special Event Permit. Contact the Special Event Coordinator at 831-667-0507 or BigSurEvents@parks.ca.gov for details.
Fires are allowed only in the provided metal fire rings. Wood must be small enough to fit inside the ring and be completely contained. Do not gather firewood in the park. You may purchase firewood at the entrance kiosk or from a campground host. All fireworks are prohibited.
Firearms, weapons or hunting is not allowed. Possession of loaded firearms and air rifles is prohibited. This includes anything that shoots a projectile, including, but not limited to, arrows, pellets, BBs and paint balls.
Park plants, artifacts and animals are protected and should not be touched or harassed. It is important that you use the provided metal storage bins for all food and scented items to avoid accidentally feeding or having any negative interactions with native park wildlife.
See the Camping Reservation Guidefor complete information on camping in all California State Parks.
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3 miles roundtrip
This moderate loop hike follows the Big Sur River then climbs through shady redwoods to an exposed sunny ridge with a panoramic view of the ocean, Sycamore Canyon and the Santa Lucia Mountains. Starts across the river from the Redwood Deck.
GOOGLE STREET VIEW
.7 mile roundtrip
This easy self-guided trail offers an opportunity to learn about Big Sur's native plants. Starting across from Day use Lot #2, look for the printed nature guides at the trail head.
GOOGLE STREET VIEW
RIVER PATH and WARDEN'S PATH
.6 mile loop
Wheelchair- and stroller-accessible, this loop trail also allows dogs. Following the bank of the Big Sur River, the trail passes through the Redwood Deck and includes a number of picnic areas.
GOOGLE STREET VIEW
VALLEY VIEW and PFEIFFER FALLS TRAIL
2 miles roundtrip
Climb a moderate-strenuous 750 feet through a Redwood and Oak woodland to a fork in the trail. Take the left fork to the Valley View Overlook, where you will be rewarded with a tremendous view of the Big Sur River Valley, Pt. Sur and Andrew Molera State Park. Backtrack and take the right fork for a view of Pfeiffer Falls, a 60-foot waterfall.
GOOGLE STREET VIEW
BIG SUR RIVER GORGE
.5 mile round trip
This paved trail leads you to the Big Sur River Gorge, an undeveloped natural area. Adventurous hikers may continue on by wading in the river and climbing along rocks and logs. Use extreme caution as loose rocks, slippery surfaces and unstable soils create extremely hazardous conditions. Diving and jumping into the river is prohibited.
GOOGLE STREET VIEW
MT. MANUEL TRAIL
8 miles roundtrip
Beginning in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, this trail enters U.S. Forest Service land after the first mile. A strenouous climb, it offers tremendous views of the Santa Lucia Mountains and distant ocean. Bring a hat and lots of water as it is sunny and exposed most of the way.
PINE RIDGE TRAIL
23 miles one way
Primarily a Ventana Wilderness Trail, the first 2.5 miles skirt above and around Pfeiffer Big Sur's campground and River Gorge. The trailhead is located at the Big Sur Station. This trail is extremely popular on weekends and holidays when many backpackers are drawn to Sykes Hot Springs, a strenous 10-mile (6-7 hour) one-way hike. Dogs are allowed on this trail. Expect a large crowd on any nice day.
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Special Events are permitted at this park with an approved Special Event Permit. All the locations in the park are outdoors and rustic. Events at this park are suitable for those wishing to have a low-key event in a natural setting without modern trappings. Special Events include weddings, elopements, receptions, rehearsal dinners, corporate events, events that require the reservation of day-use facilities, events with vendors, events conducted for-profit/non-profit business, etc. Amplified sound is only permitted at the Campfire Center. You can apply for a Special Event Permit up to one (1) year in advance. Applications received less than thirty (30) days prior to the event date are subject to additional fees and restrictions. Applications received less than fifteen (15) days in advance of the event may not be considered. Contact the Special Event Coordinator at 831-667-0507 or BigSurEvents@parks.ca.gov for availability,permit & fee information or for an informational packet for an event next year.
For more information, download the information packet:
2017 Pfeiffer Big Sur Special Event Information Packet
Film and Photography Permits
All film shoots (still or motion) at this park and all other California State Parks must have a valid film permit issued by the California Film Commission (CFC). Film shoots on weekends or holidays are not allowed. Film shoots may not interfere with any park programs. The film permit process requires a minimum of two (2) weeks to process from the date that the park receives your pending CFC permit application and a completed Motion Picture Activity Form issued by the park. To check availability, contact the Special Event Coordinator at 831-667-0507 or BigSurEvents@parks.ca.gov.
To apply for a film permit with the CFC, please visit www.film.ca.gov
For information regarding filming in Monterey County, please visit http://www.filmmonterey.org.
More information: Film Production in California State Parks
School Field Trips (K-12)
Day-use fees are waived for all K through 12 day-use fieldtrips at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park with an approved School Field Trip Request Form (DPR124). Be sure to indicate the number of vehicles that will be arriving at the park. The completed DPR124 may be scanned and emailed as a pdf document to firstname.lastname@example.org and must be received at least fifteen (15) days in advance of the proposed date of your visit. Requests for a ranger or park interpreter led program must be received at least thirty (30) days in advance to allow preparation and scheduling by park personnel (and is dependent on staff availability). Camping is not included under this program. Camping availability information and reservations can be made through Reserve America.
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Header photographs are courtesy of Sharon Pieniak
Garrapata State Park
16 miles north on Highway 1
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Available Activities and Facilities at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park
En route Campsites
Hike or Bike Campsites
RV Dump Station
Exhibits and Programs
Nature & Wildlife Viewing
Restrooms / Showers
Drinking Water Available