Big Sur Camping Sites & Campgrounds
Plaskett Creek Campground has green lawns, pine trees, flush toilets & is located across the highway from Sand Dollar Beach, right on Hwy 1. Ponderosa Campground, on the other hand, has native grasses, oak trees, a seasonal creek and is located on a paved back road, with easy access from US Hwy 101
Central Coast Camping
Monterey Ranger District of Los Padres National Forest manages several Campgrounds along the Central Coast. Some are first come, first serve.
- Alder Creek Campground (long dirt road access Rd# 23S01)
- Bottchers Gap Campground (inland on Rd #18S05)
- Kirk Creek Campground (on coastal cliffs, next to hwy)
- Nacimiento Campground (inland on Nacimiento Rd #22S01)
- Plaskett Creek Campground ( w/ reservations, on Hwy 1)
- Ponderosa Campground (inland on Nacimiento Rd #22S01)
Backpacking trails lead into the wilderness backcountry, along ridge lines with vast ocean views and also deep into fern creeks with redwood canyons. Sykes Hot Springs is a remote destination, if you like to hike, although summer can get crowded. Overnight wilderness permits and campfire permits may be needed.
Free camping in Big Sur
can be found on dirt back roads:
DISPERSED CAMP: No charge camp sites means dirt road access, tighter camp fire restrictions & no facilities (table, bathrooms, fire pits). Campfire permits are required for primitive camping (stoves & BBQ), but unfortunately much of the time camp fires are not even allowed in the backcountry due to extreme wildfire danger.
None of these free camp sites are located on the beach or ocean shoreline. They are situated in the mountains near the coast. These premium, hard to find camp spots usually require that you venture off the beaten path – w/ a National Forest map or regional topo map. If you want to camp without the tourists and crowds, with excellent views of the coast & the night sky, plus avoiding all fees – then take one of these dirt roads off the main highway & start exploring (preferably before sunset, with a high clearance vehicle).
- Los Padres Forest Rd #23S01 – Willow Creek (aka Los Burros) Road
- Los Padres Forest Rd #20S05 – Prewitt Ridge Road
Big Sur Private Campgrounds –
- Big Sur Campground & Cabins
- Big Sur Riverside Campground & Cabins
- Fernwood Resort Campground
- Ventana Campground