Camping guide to Big Sur, California

Rebecca Hext

Once Big Sur is back up and running after the harsh winter California had this year, it will be buzzing with visitors! Using this guide you can make your plans ahead of time to beat the crowds and get the most out of your weekend.


Planning Ahead for Big Sur

If you like to plan ahead and make reservations at campsites before your arrival, three of the coolest campsites to check out in Big Sur are Limekiln Creek, Kirk Creek, and Plaskett Creek. The benefits to staying at established campsites in Big Sur are the availability of drinking/cooking water, the restrooms, and the safety of your belongings.


The staircase leading down to Sand Dollar Beach within walking distance of Plaskett Creek Campground and Kirk Creek Campground
The staircase leading down to Sand Dollar Beach within walking distance of Plaskett Creek Campground and Kirk Creek Campground

Plaskett Creek Campground

Plaskett Creek is great for bigger families that are trying to enjoy Big Sur without having to move around very much. The campsite is very clean and doesn’t have any pest problems. Jade Cove is within walking distance of the campground as well. Jade Cove has an upper picnicking area (equipped with grills) and a large staircase leading down to the sandy beaches this area is known for.

The beach is known as Sand Dollar Beach and is a popular surf spot for locals and visitors. The area is also unique because it is dog-friendly as long as you leash up before heading down. There are no hikes that begin from the campsite, but there are tons of trails within 10 miles of the site if you are interested in checking out the forests.

Limekiln Creek

A personal favorite of mine, Limekiln Creek is perfect for younger groups. The campsites are all along the banks of Limekiln Creek and hidden beneath the shade of giant redwoods. The trees offer some relief from the afternoon heat and make the area great for hammocking.

There are two hikes that start from the campground; one that leads to an old limekiln in the forest and another that takes you to a set of 2 waterfalls. In addition, the campsite has direct beach access and you can even camp near the ocean if you prefer that. The cove is small but perfect for swimming, tanning, and hanging out with friends.


One of the two waterfalls that hikers can visit from Limekiln Creek Campground
One of the two waterfalls that hikers can visit from Limekiln Creek Campground

Kirk Creek

Kirk Creek Campground is unique because it is one of the only campsites in Big Sur that lies on the west side of the 1. The site is perfect for anyone looking to have a serene weekend because the sites themselves are spacious, open, and grassy. Just like Plasket Creek, it is within walking distance to Jade Cove/ Sand Dollar Beach. However, this campground is one of the most popular in Big Sur. If you want to get a spot here you will need to book it very far ahead of time.

Just Passing Through

Many travelers use Highway 1 as an alternate scenic route to get north or south because the 5 can get pretty boring. If you are on a longer trip and can’t plan ahead of time when you will be passing through Big Sur, Andrew Molera is a great option.


This site does first-come-first-serve reservations that start at 12:00 PM every day, but it comes at a price! The campsite is a hike-in, meaning that from the parking lot campers must hike an additional mile to the campgrounds. However, it is well worth it once you arrive.

The campground is very spacious, has a surfing beach is within 10 minutes of walking, and there are a couple of hikes that start from the campgrounds. Whether you are planning to stay for a couple of days or just passing through, Molera will not disappoint.


The beach is only a 10-minute walk from the Andrew Molera Campground
The beach is only a 10-minute walk from the Andrew Molera Campground

Backcountry Camping

First of all, if you haven’t hiked Cone Peak you really should. Secondly, for an awesome backcountry camping experience in Big Sur, you need to go to Vicente Flat and Goat Camp.  Lucky for you, both are conveniently located on the trail to Cone Peak.

If you are looking for a less aggressive hike, simply hike the 5 miles to Vicente Flat for an overnight. On the other hand, if you are trying to go big you can hike the 11 miles all the way to Goat Camp.  Then, on day two you can head up to Cone Peak. Both campsites have stunning views of the coast because of their elevation.  They also are great start hikes for new backcountry campers.



If you aren’t interested in spending a night outdoors but want to see Big Sur, you are in luck! Treebones Resort, although much more expensive than the classic camping, gives visitors an opportunity for the ‘glamping’ experience. They offer normal tent camping plots, yurts, and a human nest.

That is right folks; if you want to sleep in a literal human nest while visiting Big Sur, you can. As you might imagine, reservations fill up fast for the human nest. If you want to spend a night here, you will have to book it six months or more in advance.

No matter what option you choose a reservation includes meals from a dining hall, morning yoga, and a pool/hot tub. If you want to check out Big Sur from the comfort of a nice resort, you can’t beat Treebones.


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rebecca-hext is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival