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Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Park Information

Contact Information

(831) 667-2315

Park Hours

Open 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset.

Driving Directions to Julia Pfeiffer Burns SP

The park is 37 miles south of Carmel on Hwy 1, and 12 miles south of Pfeiffer Big Sur SP on Hwy 1.

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Camping and Lodging

Online reservations are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Reservations can be made 7 months in advance on the first day of the month beginning at 8:00 a.m. PST via the website, by mail, or by calling the toll free telephone number at 1-800-444-7275. Due to seasonal volume, access to the ReserveAmerica website and the telephone line may at times be limited.

Online Reservations

Brochures and Campground Maps

Upcoming Park Events

No events scheduled at this moment.


All trails at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park are now open for hiking.

The Ewoldson trail is open on the ocean side of the loop, while the eastern side is closed and under construction.

Please carefully observe closure signs.


This state park is named after Julia Pfeiffer Burns, a well respected pioneer woman in the Big Sur country. The park stretches from the Big Sur coastline into nearby 3,000-foot ridges. It features redwood, tan oak, madrone, chaparral, and an 80-foot waterfall that drops from granite cliffs into the ocean from the Overlook Trail. A panoramic view of the ocean and miles of rugged coastline is available from the higher elevations along the trails east of Highway 1.

Location-Directions
The park is 37 miles south of Carmel on Highway 1, and 12 miles south of Pfeiffer Big Sur.

Seasons/Climate/Recommended Clothing
The weather can be changeable. Layered clothing is advised.

Facilities - Activities

Whale Watching
In December and January the bench at the end of Overlook trail is an excellent place to watch for gray whales migrating southward to their breeding and calving grounds off the Baja California coast. Many whales pass close to shore at this point, and occasionally one will come into the mouth of the cove. In March and April, they can be seen returning north to their summer feeding grounds in the North Pacific.

Sea otters can sometimes be seen in the cove, and harbor seals and California sea lions are occasional visitors.  Many sea and shore birds - Sleek black cormorants, seagulls, brown pelicans, and black oystercatchers also make an appearance.

Underwater Area
Between Partington Point and McWay Creek is the Julia Pfeiffer Burns Underwater Area, which was established in 1970 and is now a scuba diving area. The rocky shoreline is the access to the underwater park. Special-use permits allow experienced scuba divers to explore the reserve.

McWay Waterfall House
The terrace is all that remains of Waterfall House, the residence of Lathrop and Helen Hooper Brown. When the Browns began to acquire their Big Sur acreage in 1924, Mrs. Brown became acquainted with Julia Pfeiffer Burns, the daughter of a Big Sur pioneer family. In 1962, Mrs. Brown gave the ranch to the state for use as a state park dedicated to the memory of Julia Pfeiffer Burns.

Camping
Two Environmental Campsites are located on the west side of HWY 1 south of McWay Cove.  Both sites are hike in only and no vehicle access is permitted.  Picnic table, fire ring, and toilets are available.  You must bring your own water and firewood, and pack out all your trash.  Reservations are required.  No dogs are permitted in the campground or on park trails unless it is a licensed and working service dog.  All incoming campers must check in at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park 11 miles north to get their vehicle registered for camping.  Camping in the two designated sites is the only camping permitted in the park.