No, You Can’t Camp for Free in Big Sur Anymore

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If you’re planning a trip along the California Coast, you can’t miss Big Sur. However, lodging in this neck of the woods isn’t cheap. Many people camp while traveling in this area, but even campsites can be expensive in Big Sur. In recent years, we’ve seen some of the best free camping spots shut down, and free camping in Big Sur is no exception.

Today, we’re looking at how camping in Big Sur has changed in recent years, especially for RVers. Let’s get started!

Where Is Big Sur? 

Big Sur sits along the rocky Pacific coast of California. The area extends approximately 100 miles, with San Simeon and Carmel as the north and south borders. It’s one of the most breathtaking and inspiring coastlines in the entire country.

One of the best ways to experience Big Sur is following California’s Highway One. This provides you the opportunity to see Big Sur and the rest of the gorgeous coast.

What Is Big Sur Known for? 

Big Sur is one of the most beautiful areas in the world. The jagged coastline, sandy beaches, and amazing views are just a few things you can see in this area. Highway One runs along the Big Sur area, making it accessible by vehicle.

Those making the drive can experience the entire coast in a single day. However, the best way to experience Big Sur is to take your time. You can easily spend several days making the trip by stopping at overlooks, checking out local towns, and tasting some of the treats. The winding highway frames the mountains and coastline perfectly.

Many visit the area for the beautiful views and the incredible recreation. Whether you want to play in the ocean, view wildlife, or take a hike, you’ll find it in Big Sur.  

Can You Camp for Free in Big Sur? 

You can find free dispersed camping near Big Sur, but not in Big Sur. These free camping spots aren’t typically acceptable for those in RVs or motorhomes. You may even need a vehicle with high clearance, whether tent or car camping. However, roads can be sketchy as there isn’t pavement in many dispersed camping areas. Rain can turn roads to clay-like mud, impassible for most vehicles. 

You may spot RVs parked along the coast, but you cannot park overnight or camp along Highway One. It’s not uncommon for RVers and other vehicles to park along the coast to enjoy the view, especially during sunset. However, after the sun sets, they’ll find a legal spot to park for the night.

Keep in Mind: What is car camping? Here’s everything you need to know!

Where Can I Camp in Big Sur? 

While there may not be free camping in Big Sur, we believe a few paid options are worth considering. Staying in one of these campgrounds isn’t cheap, but it can allow you to stay close to the unforgettable coast and easily spend several days exploring. Let’s look at where you should consider staying!

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is excellent for trailers under 27’ and camper/motorhomes up to 32’ in length. When you stay in this beautiful California state park, you can walk among the many trees, like redwoods, conifers, oaks, sycamores, cottonwoods, maples, alders, and willows. This campground is popular for hikers, bikers, car campers, and RVers.

You may even get lucky and snag a campsite along the Big Sur River. This is a popular campground with 189 reservable sites that typically cost $35 per night. While camping in Big Sur may not be free, this is one of the more affordable options. Make a reservation if you’re hoping to stay here!

Fernwood Resort

The Fernwood Resort is a fantastic spot for motorhomes under 30’ and trailers less than 28’. Camping at Fernwood Resort isn’t cheap. Depending on the amenities, RV campsites range from $85 to $105 per night. Camping here will leave you feeling like you’re camping in a national park. Massive trees surround many of the campsites, and you’ll dread having to pack up camp and leave this resort.

This resort offers opportunities for hiking, sightseeing, beaches, horseback riding, and almost any outdoor activity you can imagine. It’s an incredibly peaceful resort full of opportunities to relax and enjoy nature.

Source: Fernwood Resort

Riverside Campground & Cabins

At Riverside Campground & Cabins, you’ll find 34 RV/tent sites and 12 cabins. The campground sits along the Big Sur River and occupies 16 acres of majestic redwoods. You’re only ten minutes from easy beach access and some of the best hiking trails in the area. It’s a short drive to Carmel-By-The-Sea or San Simeon if you need anything.

The campground offers hot showers, laundry facilities, and clean restrooms. Take a dip, go tubing, or fish in the river. You’ll have no trouble spending time in the great outdoors! Each site comes with 20-amp electricity and water connections.

Keep in Mind: While visiting California, you may want to visit a few national parks. But are the National Parks in California worth visiting?

Is Camping in Big Sur Worth It?

Camping in Big Sur allows you to slow down and experience nearly everything Big Sur offers, even if the camping isn’t free. Nothing in this area is cheap, including camping. So ensure you set your budget accordingly and give yourself extra spending money to taste all that the local restaurants offer. However, there are plenty of free hikes and pull-offs along Highway One, where you can enjoy the incredible views. Is Big Sur on the list for your next adventure?

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