Open 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset.
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
CHECK CURRENT WEATHER
The weather can be changeable. Layered clothing is advised. In winter, overnight temperatures can range in the 30s-5os (Fahrenheit). Winter daytime temperatures can be low 50s-70s. In summer, overnight temperatures can range in the 50s-70s, with daytime temperatures typicallys in the 70s-80s. Summer mornings bring fog, which usually burns off by midday.
Near mile marker 35.8 on Highway 1, the park is 37 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
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. Kiosk opening and closing times are variable. Visitors are expected to self-register at the self pay station when the kiosk is closed.
There are a limited number of parking spots available in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. Maximum vehicle length is 22'. Parking fills up quickly. If the lot is full, you may park on the side of Highway 1 provided your vehicle is entirely off the road with no part of it on or over the white line. Use extreme caution if entering or exiting your car on the highway.
There are two established picnic areas in the park with picnic tables and charcoal grills. One is in the parking area near the Ewoldsen Trailhead. The other is on the Ewoldsen trail, in the redwoods, a short walk in.
Dogs are not allowed on any State Park trails, but they are allowed in the paved parking area. 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.
There are a number of trails in the park. See the Trails section for more information.
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.
The Pelton Wheel supplied power needs to residences, a blacksmith shop and a mining car tram that ran between the main house and Highway One. Hans Ewoldsen built the paddle wheel in 1932 using hand-split redwood from the canyon and other materials that he bought, working in the machine shop of the construction crew which was building Highway One.The undershot wheel ran a 32-volt generator and was the first electric power in the Big Sur area.
Underwater Area/SCUBA Diving
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 north cove of Partington Cove is the entry to the underwater area. Special-use permits, available at the Big Sur Station, allow experienced scuba divers to explore the area. A valid diver certification card from a recognized organization (SCUBA only) and a driver's license are required for the permit. A diver must also have a device capable of obtaining and maintaining positive buoyancy. Diving permits are limited to a minimum of two divers and a maximum of ten divers. Diving alone is not permitted.
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.
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Two Environmental Campsites are located on the west side of Highway 1 south of McWay Cove. Both sites are hike-in only and no vehicle access is permitted. These sites are extremely popular year round and usually fill up six months in advance. Reservations are required and 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.
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 the entrance kiosk. In the event that the kiosk is closed, campers may also check in at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, 11 miles north. Campers parking vehicles in the main parking lot or on the highway should display vehicle tag (proof of reservation) in the windshield. Vehicle tags are also valid for day use entrance into other area state parks.
** Camping in the two designated sites is the only camping permitted in the park. Camping or sleeping inside a vehicle in the parking lot or on the highway is not allowed.
CAMPING FEE: $30/night
Check in is 2:00 pm. Check out is 12:00 noon. Picnic table, fire ring, and pit toilets are available.You must bring your own water and firewood, and pack out all your trash. Please note that the only running water is across Highway 1 near the restrooms. Campsites have a maximum occupancy of eight people. Tents and other equipment must be confined to the delineated space within the site reserved, either #1 Saddle Rock or #2 South Gardens.
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 Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park entrance kiosk (11 miles north). 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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WATERFALL OVERLOOK TRAIL/MCWAY FALLS
.6 miles roundtrip
This wheelchair accessible trail can be accessed from the south parking lot or the stairs near the entrance kiosk. The trail passes under the highway and then heads north around McWay Cove, overlooking the waterfall and beach that was created from a 1983 land slide. It ends at an observation deck with a magnificent panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean - a good location to see migrating whales. California Condors are often seen in the Eucalyptus trees here. NOTE: There is no beach access here. Any attempt to get down to the beach is a citable and arrestable offense. This area is extremely hazardous. Please stay on the trail.
GOOGLE STREET VIEW
.25 miles to waterfall
The trail starts at the east end of the parking lot and follows McWay Creek to a 60 foot waterfall where the trail ends. Please stay on the trail in this area. The habitat is sensitive and recovering from the Basin Complex Fire in 2008.
GOOGLE STREET VIEW
The Ewoldsen trail starts from the Canyon trail and gains elevation through a redwood forest. This trail splits into a loop around the canyon after 1.5 miles. The loop is just over 2 miles long. The total trail with the loop from the parking lot and back is about 5 miles / 8km. Pocket views of the coast can be seen from the western side of the loop.
GOOGLE STREET VIEW
1 mile one way
The Waters Trail is a connecter trail from the Ewoldsen trail to the Tin House fire road which connects with the Tan Bark Trail.
TAN BARK TRAIL
3.2 miles one way
The trail starts at the Partington Cove turnout and heads east following Partington Creek before a series of switchbacks that lead to the coastal ridge tops. The trail ends at Tin House Fire Road.
TINHOUSE FIRE ROAD
2.3 miles one way
Tinhouse Fire Road is a dirt road closed to public vehicle access but is accessible for hiking. It starts on the east side of Highway 1 near the Partington Vista Point turnout and leads to the top of the ridge where the remains of a historic tin house is located. The Tan Bark Trail and the Waters connection trail can be accessed off this fire road.
PARTINGTON COVE TRAIL
1 mile roundtrip
Identified by a green gate at Highway 1, this trail is a dirt wagon road leading down to the Pacific Ocean starting at the Partington Cove turnout. At the bottom of the trail, where it reaches Partington Creek, it splits north and south. The north trail leads to a small rocky beach. Surf conditions can be very rough and swimming or wading is not advised. The south fork of the trail leads through a historic tunnel to an overlook which once was a loading dock for ships. Do not venture past the overlook bench as the surf can be unpredictable and the rocks are unstable.
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Small weddings and elopements are permitted at this park with an approved Special Event Permit. All the locations in the park are outdoors and with no seating available. Events at this park are suitable for those wishing to have a low-key event in a natural setting without modern trappings. Receptions, catered events, or an event with more than thirty (30) people are not permitted at this park. Amplified sound is not permitted at any location at this park. There are no exclusive access sites at this park. 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 and permit & fee information.
For more information, download the information packet:
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park Special Event Packet
School Field Trips (K-12)
Day-use fees are waived for all K through 12 day-use fieldtrips at Julia Pfeiffer Burns 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. Parking at this park is limited and fills up quickly by mid-morning. Parking passes do not guarantee parking spaces at this park. Vehicles over 22 feet in length are not permitted at this park.
The completed DPR124 may be scanned an emailed as a pdf document to email@example.com 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 (accommodate dependent on staff availability).
Camping is not included under this program. Camping availability information and reservations can be made through Reserve America.
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 BigSurFilm@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
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Header photographs are courtesy of Sharon Pieniak
Garrapata State Park
27 miles north on Highway 1
Available Activities and Facilities at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
Exhibits and Programs
Nature & Wildlife Viewing
Drinking Water Available