Big Sur is absolutely a heaven kind of mountainous region, spread over an enormously wide area of land. It emerges from the Central Coast of California and lies between the Carmel Highlands and San Simeon. This is also the same place where the Santa Lucia Mountains rise from the Pacific Ocean. Big Sur is a dispersed area for camping.
Big Sur is a very adventurous and popular destination. It is known to be one of the most beautiful Coastlines in the whole world. The roads through this coastline are the most beautiful and peaceful tracks that lead to even more unreal and heavenly destinations.
Big Sur is very popular worldwide for its natural features and the most beautiful scenery ever. It is surely the longest as well as the most stunning stretch of undeveloped coastline. Other than just the views and the scenery, driving on the Big Sur roads is definitely one of the best long drives on this planet Earth.
In this article about the Big Sur, we are going to specifically talk about the Big Sur free camping and will discuss the best Campgrounds in Big Sur.
Where to Camp in Big Sur for Free?
There are certain places in Big Sur where camping is absolutely free! You got no charges to pay for your stay. You just go there and spend the best and most beautiful moments of your life. Now, to decide where should you actually go camping and to find that exact place is the real thing.
There are many forests and other local places in Big Sur where you can camp for free. They allow you to camp for free but there are certain guidelines that you must follow. Before you make a decision on any point for camping, make sure you’ve researched well about the area and do not forget to contact the Local Rangers Station as well.
How Can You Find Free Camping in Big Sur – Big Sur California Free Camping
Here are a few things that would help you find free camping in Big Sur.
- You can find the free camping locations through:
- By contacting the Local Rangers Station
- Or just by asking people around you who have been there before.
- The first thing to do is to look for a safe and suitable road that would lead to your particular destination. There are 2 to 3 road options for most of the campgrounds so you may look for the one which is most convenient for you.
- There are certain apps that may help you in this case. As they are GPS enabled as well, they lead you exactly where you want to be.
- The next thing to do for finding the right place to free camp in big sur is to view that particular area through the Satellite view of Google Map. This would make your decision much easy and you’ll have a better idea about the place.
What should I pack for Big Sur?
There’s a long list of the items you must pack for big sur. For example:
- Sleeping bags
- Sleeping Pads
- Tents for camping
- Your toothbrush and toothpaste
- Lamps or any other source of light
- A few meals
- Water bottles
- Personal medicines
Other than all these essentials, your clothing must include:
- Warm and Cold clothes
- Jackets and caps
- Shoes and slippers
- Rain jackets and shoes
- And all your personal wearing
Places You Can Camp for Free – Free Campgrounds in California
Tourists actually really admire being at Big Sur for camping. The sunrise, sunsets, the views; everything is just breathtaking about the Big Sur. One thing before you’re off to go is to make sure that you take 4 wheels to drive there because you would have to make it up over the hills and curved roads. So, ordinary vehicles won’t be a good idea for camping in Big Sur.
Camping in Big Sur is always just an amazing idea. The views, the peace, and the beauty of nature that you experience there are just worth it. You wouldn’t have ever seen such a beauty in a place. Let’s take a look at some best places you can choose for camping in Big Sur California.
Here are some great ideas and recommendations for Campgrounds in Big Sur.
1. Plaskett Creek Ridge Road – Plaskett Creek Campground
About – Plaskett Creek Campground is a pretty high point in Big Sur which offers you an incredible view of the Big Sur coastline; a view that is impossible to describe. Although it is difficult to reach the place the hardest roads often lead to the most beautiful destinations.
Plaskett Creek Ridge Road is the difficult, bumpy, and even little dirt road that leads to the Plaskett campground. On your way, you’ll come across some private properties, grassy hills, and amazing views up and the coast.
To reach the real point, you have to climb the roads across the forests throughout, bear the hot and cold winds, and sometimes the dust and dirt too. But once you’ve reached the actual place, you wouldn’t want to leave. An ideal picnic spot and heavenly views!
Tips – Make sure you have enough gas in your car for a healthy trip because you won’t find the gas stations near around. Secondly, bring a lot of water with you. The air is dry, it gets windy at times and the journey would belong. So, each person must have his/her own gallon of water per day.
The weather changes in minutes. Make sure you pack up almost everything that you might need. also, there is no arrangement for trash collection there, and currently, no toilets! Please dispose of your wastes in a proper way and leave them cleaner than you found it.
Best Time to Visit – Any time you visit Plaskett Creek, it’s just worth it. But more specifically, the sunrise and sunset views are a must-watch if you plan to be there.
Location – The Big Sur is basically located in California, US. The Plaskett Ridge Road is at a distance of 1 hour and 10 to 15 minutes drive via CA-1 S from the Big Sur.
Highlights – The views make you feel like you’re dreaming. It all feels so unreal, so heavenly. Make sure you have a lot of time to spend there and do not miss out on the morning and the evening views.
Also, flush toilets and sinks are available in the area. So, you easily spend 14 hours per day (which is the maximum time you can spend there in one day), without having to worry about nature’s call.
Current Update – Open. The Plaskett Creek Campground stays open for 24 hours. You don’t have a time restriction to pay a visit. You may also make a stay for a couple of days.
2. Los Burros Road – Los Padres National Forest
About – Los Burros Road, with its panoramic views, is another beautiful, long road in Big Sur. The Los Burros Road leads to the Los Padres Forest which is spread widely across the Big Sur. The Campgrounds there offer stunning views of wide-open grasslands, forests, and tall hills.
The road is uneven, bumpy, and rocky. But once you’re there on the Forest Service Road, you just keep driving until you find a perfect place for free camping. It’s just very simple then. Get out of your vehicle, pitch your tents and enjoy!
Because of free camping and amazingly beautiful views in Los Padres, many of the spots are usually occupied by families, friends, and couples on the weekends. But if you keep driving, you’ll definitely find even more beautiful viewpoints on the higher roads for your stay.
Tips – The campgrounds of Los Padres are reached through the rocky Los Burros Road. Make sure you take a high clearance vehicle that would go smooth even on uneven roads. It is recommended not to choose the buses for your trip to such hilly places.
Best Time to Visit – Sweetly cold winter mornings and evenings are a good option to drive all the way through the Los Burros rod and find a suitable destination in Los Padre’s campgrounds. However, the Autumn season would be a beautiful season to make a visit there.
Location – The distance from Big Sur to Los Padres National Forest is 3 hours and a few minutes drive if you drive via CA-1 S. Other routes take a little longer than this.
Los Padres National Forest, 6750 Navigator Dr, Goleta, CA 93117
Highlights – There are tons of great trials and picnic spots in this area. The routes up to the mountains present mind-blowing sceneries and views. Free camping in Los Padres National Forest, Big Sur never disappoints!
While you’re searching for the location through Maps, you may come across names such as Willow Creek instead of Loss Burros Road. This is because Google Maps have this place named Will Creek Road and Yahoo Maps has it as Willow Creeks Road. So, do not get confused by those names.
Current Situation – Open. The spot itself is open. However, few roads that lead to the spot are closed but Highway 1 is open. So, you can travel through Highway.
3. Sycamore Flat Road – Sycamore Flat Campground
About – Sycamore Flat Road leads to the Sycamore Flat Campground, which is an open, outdoor kind of a place, much near to the road itself. It is a small campground, as compared to the other widely spread ones in Big Sur. It is a 12-site campground, located on the Northern side of the San Gabriel Mountains.
The place possesses an attractive image, unique and beautiful which isn’t found on the Southern side of San Gabriel. Because the campground is much near to the side of the road, the place does not seem much attractive to most of the tourists as it is limited in privacy as well.
During the Summer months, there’s a running water stream which enhances the beauty of the place. But because of being an open area with less shade for camping, people do not really prefer being here for most of their time.
Tips – If you want complete privacy for your camping trip, this particular campground may not be an ideal choice for you. But also, because it is not much crowded on most days, you can consider it a perfect desert hideout for a backcountry adventure.
Moreover, drinking water and flush toilets are available in the area. So, you don’t necessarily need to carry water with you or worry about toilet use. You get both the facilities there.
Best Time to Visit – The evenings are the best time to visit the place. When it’s all naturally shady and windy, you won’t have to feel the hot sun rays and you can have a better time there. Also, you may have your evening parties and picnics with your friends or family arranged in the Sycamore Flat Campground.
Location – The drive from Big Sur to Sycamore Flat requires 1 hour and 30 to 40 minutes if you travel via CA-1 N. if you drive via the Carmel Valley Road, it would take a little longer than this to reach Sycamore.
Highlights – The place is a great picnic spot if you prefer not to travel a lot through the bumpy and uneven roads around the tall mountains. The campground is not much far away from the Sycamore Flat Road and so, you don’t need to go far for the picnics.
Along with Picnicking, you may also go for river and stream fishing as the stream in Sycamore has running water throughout the summer months.
Current Situation – Open. The area stays open throughout the year. However, the visiting time is from 7 am to 9 pm.
A Few Things to Know About Big Sur Before You’re Off to Go
It is important to have maximum information about a place when you’re planning a trip. So, here are a few things about Big Sur that you must know.
No Availability of Mobile Service – In most of the places in Big Sur, there is no Mobile service or there’s a weak service. From Carmel to almost 90 miles towards South, you won’t have the phone service. So, make sure you have downloaded offline maps, have pre reservations and set up a meeting point if you plan to meet your friends.
Gas is Expensive – Firstly, you won’t find any gas stations nearby. And if you do, it would be very expensive, probably two times the price of regular gas stations. There are only two gas stations within the Big Sur.
Not Many Food Options – There are not many food options available in the entire Big Sur region. And even if you find some, there won’t be many options to choose from. So, it is recommended to head over to the grocery store and get some eatables before your trip. For the Big Sur, there are a few options:
- Big Sur Bakery
- Big Sur Deli
- Café Kevah
Big Sur Free Camping – FAQs
Final Thoughts and Suggestions
Big Sur is definitely a breathtakingly beautiful coastline with each and every spot is heavenly beautiful. While you get a chance to visit the stunning places of Big Sur, firstly make sure you have a capable vehicle and an active driver who would totally focus on the roads that take you up on the hills.
Secondly, leave your trace behind. Do not throw wrappers or empty bottles there. Make sure you leave the place cleaner than before. Pack all your stuff back, including the waste wrappers, bottles, and metal boxes, and take them back with you in your car. You may throw them when you see a dustbin nearby.