Camping, hiking, scenic natural beauty, and wildlife galore—Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park has it all. This California state park, located on the western slope of the Santa Lucia Mountains, is a lovely, wooded, riverside retreat to those who want to experience one of the Sunshine State’s most popular parks.

Enjoy a stroll along the Big Sur River, hike one of the park’s many trails, or make a stay of it at one of Pfeiffer’s many campsites. With plenty to see and do, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is definitely a must-see for any nature lover.

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Be Sure To Plan Ahead

While many of California’s state parks are reopening, there may still be COVID-19 guidelines in place. Currently, the Nature Center at Pfeiffer Big Sur is closed, and some restrooms may be unavailable due to cleaning schedules. If you're planning on taking a hike, be sure to pack accordingly. Be prepared by staying updated on all the latest park conditions by checking their website before your trip.

All About Camping At Pfeiffer

Because the campground is so popular, reservations are highly recommended. The park has 189 RV and tent sites that are either on or near the Big Sur River that make for a lovely and relaxing retreat. Each campsite has a parking area for at least one car, a fire pit, and a picnic table. There are no hookups at any of the sites, however, there are hot showers and toilets located throughout the campground for your convenience.

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Camping Fees For Tents/RVs

  • Standard Site: $35/night
  • Premium Riverfront Site: $50/night
  • Hike and Bike Site: $5/night

*Hikers and Bikers must arrive on foot or by bike. Hike and bike stay is limited to 2 consecutive nights.

  • Senior Citizen Discount: Age 62 and up, $2.00 off all campsites (excluding Hike and Bike)
  • Disabled Discount Pass Holders: 50% off regular Standard or Premium Rate
  • Distinguished Veterans Pass Holders: No charge

The Fine Print

The camping fee includes entry for 2 vehicles; towed vehicles or trailers are counted as 1 vehicle. As there is no overflow parking, no additional vehicles are permitted. All equipment must fit within the parking boundary.

The park has a maximum stay limit of 7 consecutive nights (during peak season). Once this limit has been reached, campers must leave the campground for a minimum of 48 hours before returning for an additional stay.

Campers must check-in at the entrance kiosk, and vehicles must display proof of registration in the windshield. State parks pass holders must also present their passes upon entering the park.

Walk-up Campsites

Reservations are strongly recommended at the walk-up site. To get a walk-up site, you must be physically present at the entrance kiosk, as you cannot make reservations over the phone for these sites. Though the campsite is usually booked well in advance, there may be cancellations; however, it is always recommended to have a reservation ahead of time.

Cabin Reservations

The park has one cabin available for rental. The maximum occupancy is six persons, though those not sleeping in the cabin can tent camp at the site. there is also an adjoining campsite that can be reserved ahead of time and is exclusively available to cabin residence. The cabin does not have electricity, heat, or running water, so be prepared. Hot showers and bathrooms are nearby, and both the camper and the site are ADA accessible.

Additional Information

  • Check-in 2 PM, Check-out 12 PM
  • Hot Showers are token operated, and tokens may be purchased at the entrance kiosk or at various bathroom locations. 1 token=$1.00=5 minutes of shower time.
  • Dump Station is available and includes potable water for those wishing to fill their freshwater tanks. It is available at no additional charge.
  • Fires are permitted in the provided metal fire rings. Campers may not gather firewood in the park but can purchase it at the entrance kiosk.
  • Group Camping is closed until further notice.

Hiking At Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

There are several beautiful trails for hikers to enjoy at Pfeiffer. While most are currently open, be sure to check ahead of time for the latest park conditions.

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Buzzard’s Roost

This 2.6-mile loop is one of the park’s most popular trails. Following the Big Sur River, it is a moderate climb that takes hikers through the majestic redwoods and brings them up a slight elevation (around 750 ft.) to a lovely spot with a panoramic view of the mountains, nearby Sycamore Canyon, and the ocean. The trail is also a great spot for bird watching.

Big Sur Nature Trail

This self-guided trail is great for all skill levels. It is a .7 mile loop that offers river views and gives hikers plenty of opportunities to see the diverse plant life in the area. Be sure to check out the printed nature guides to learn more.

River Path and Warden’s Path

Clocking in at .6 miles, this loop is family-friendly as it is stroller accessible, allows dogs, and has access to a number of picnic areas. It also offers nice views of the Big Sur River.

Big Sur River Gorge

This .5 mile loop is a paved trail that leads to a natural area where more experienced hikers can climb along the boulders, or wade through the river.

Mt. Manuel Trail

Rated as difficult, this trail is only maintained for the first 2 miles and then becomes overgrown and more difficult terrain. It is a strenuous 8-mile roundtrip climb that is out in the open most of the time, so be sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen. The climb is worth it, however, as hikers will get an amazing view of the ocean and the Santa Lucia Mountains.

Pine Ridge Trail

From the trailhead located just south of the park’s main entrance, this 23 mile, one-way trail takes hikers around Pfeiffer Big Sur’s Campground, past the Gorge, and continues for over 20 miles through U.S. Forest Service Land. Along the way, hikers can see the popular Sykes Hot Springs.

Additional Tips And Information

The park is open to day-use visitors from 8 AM to sunset. Parking is allowed only in designated lots and campsites.

  • Day Use Fee: $10/per car, per day
  • Bicycles and scooters are allowed on paved park roads only.

There are a number of picnic areas throughout the park, so pack a lunch and enjoy the views!

There are plenty of campsites at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park for outdoor enthusiasts who want to rough it and explore the fantastic scenery. Day-trippers can also find plenty to do here with a variety of trails and available picnic sites, making this the ideal place for anyone looking to check out the Big Sur scenery on their next trip to California.

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