A Complete Guide of Dispersed Camping Big Sur

Central California’s coast has been attracting visitors for years because of its waterfalls, Rocky Mountains, trees, beautiful beaches, and breathtaking sunsets. Big Sur is a land of creative types, mountaineers, sunbathers, and every other type of tourist. A large portion of Big Sur’s interior lies within Los Padres National Forest, Ventana Wilderness, Silver Peak Wilderness, and Fort Hunter Liggett all of which make excellent locations for camping in Big Sur.

Dispersed Camping Big Sur

Dispersed Camping overview

A great way to find free camping is to go dispersed camping. Camping in a dispersed location is when you camp outside of a designated campground. The dispersed camping experience is perfect for those without reservations, who don’t mind roughing it and want to avoid campground fees.

Big Sur offers free Camping

Big Sur has a lot of great places to pitch a tent in the Los Padres National Forest, which spans the entire region. Big Sur has some excellent camping areas in the southern part of the forest, but several of the best roads are Los Burros Road, Plaskett Ridge Road, and Nacimiento-Ferguson Road. When visiting over the weekend or during the busy season, try to get there early in the afternoon. Finding an open spot may take a while, but it will be worth it in the end.

➔       Free Camping at Los Burros Road

Free Camping at Los Burros Road

Camping on Los Burros Road in Big Sur offers breathtaking views and peace and quiet. Whenever it comes to Los Burros, the secret is out like with every place in Big Sur. Parking here would not be recommended if you are RV camping. It’s very hard to turn around on these roads.

➔       Free Camping at Plaskett Ridge Road

Free Camping at Plaskett Ridge Road

A 4WD vehicle will enjoy Big Sur’s Plaskett Ridge Road, which is located in the southern part of the city. It is a potholed backcountry route into the interior of Big Sur. Toward the top of the hill where it flattens out, grassy meadows and rolling hills surround Plaskett Ridge Road camping. There is much less traffic on Plaskett Ridge Road than on the Nacimiento-Ferguson Road because of its rugged surface. Many other campers will also be up there.

➔       Free Camping at Nacimiento-Ferguson Road

Free Camping at Nacimiento-Ferguson Road

Campers used to camp along Nacimiento-Ferguson Road for free in Big Sur. Despite being one of the most popular, its popularity was well deserved. In the small town of Lucia, a few miles to the south, there is a road called Nacimiento-Ferguson Road that is dotted with small campsites and a variety of twisting, steep roads. Campsites in this area are basically just flat spots off of the road where people have set up shop for decades. There was a time when some people parked here semi-permanently, but law enforcement has halted this practice.

Plan your Dispersed Camping trip

In recent years, dispersed camping has emerged as a popular way to camp, because it requires less preparation and can be done in less time. Due to the fact that it is free, there is no need to make a reservation or pay any fee. Further, there is no requirement to check whether that place is available. In spite of the less planning required for scheduling, there are some other things to keep in mind. A campground that is well established won’t have these issues. From a safety and comfort perspective, it’s essential to be prepared.

Camping dispersed – What to bring

Camping dispersed - What to bring

The facilities that are available at dispersed camping are often lacking, nor even available at all. Pack everything you’ll need during your stay and make sure you pack everything out again at the end. Some of the items you must bring are listed below:

  • In order to make sure you stay full for the duration of your stay; you’ll need a sufficient amount of food.
  • As water is the most important source, so every person should receive a gallon of water every day, along with backup water filtering
  • Camping tent, mattress, and sleeping bag.
  • You need a camp stove that enables you to take your culinary skills on trips to the Big Sur coast.
  • In case your phone does not work, printed maps will help.
  • You should also bring some safety items, which may include an extra set of clothes, a navigational index, a headlamp, and a flashlight.
  • Dispersed camping sites do not provide storage for garbage, so you’ll need your own container.
  • You also need a Rain Jacket because there is a long rainy season in Big Sur‌ ‌from‌ ‌autumn‌ ‌to‌ ‌spring.
  • In the event that you lose phone service, you’ll need a portable charger.
  • A campfire permit is required in order to prevent forest and human damage caused by fire.

Locating the Dispersed Campsites

The flexibility of dispersed camping also entails some responsibilities, such as camping where you want. You usually don’t need special permits for dispersed camping, but you are advised to enquire about any rules specific to the area. There may be a simple registration required at some trailheads in mountainous regions. There may be a restriction against open fire in some forests.

Locating the Dispersed Campsites

Campsites found on public lands

Public lands like national forests have also been used for dispersed camping.  There are no designated camping areas here, but you can find great camping spots by following the marks left by fire pits where people have stayed.  The PRO version includes free camping findings, the ability to turn on PRO map layers so that Camps can be dispersed for free, and to use offline maps so that these areas can be explored offline.

Dispersed Camping in the Forestland

If you are doing Dispersed Camping in the forest, you will have to find a maintained forest service road. In these cases, no services are available at these remote locations. Several forms of dispersed camping can be comparable to campsites in national forests.

Dispersed Camping Rules

The following are some rules or tips you must keep in mind before camping.

  • There is often a lack of cell phone service at these locations so you must charge your gadgets.
  • It’s important to know that not all forest access roads are visible on Google Maps.
  • If you want to identify clearings in forests and pullouts along roads before the services drop, all you need to do is look at Google maps’ satellite image of the area.

When dispersed camping, leave no trace

There are several guidelines for outdoor recreationists to help them leave no trace in nature. As a result of these principles, human impacts on the surroundings, wildlife, and the resources we cherish are limited. When dispersed camping, it is especially crucial to follow these three principles.

When dispersed camping, leave no trace

The proper disposal of waste

  • Most campgrounds don’t provide outhouses for dispersed camping.
  • There is no indoor bathroom at the campsite, so campers will have to go outside to use it.
  • Keeping harmful bacteria out of the water supply is ensured through proper disposal of human waste.
  • Make sure to pack out the toilet paper and any leftover food wrappers, appliances that broke, and other trash you made during your stay.
  • Camping areas in dispersed locations typically lack garbage cans and trash collection services, so once you return to civilization, you should dispose of your waste properly.

Reduce the impact of Campfires

  • Public lands and communities are seriously threatened by wildfires.
  • Make sure you don’t start another campfire with a spark from yours.
  • You should check to see if there are any fire restrictions in place before starting a campfire.
  • It is best to use existing fire rings when starting a campfire to prevent scarring newly laid soil and rocks.
  • Alternatively, you can use fallen or dead wood around your campsite or bring your own firewood.
  • Check the temperature of your campfire before you leave. After removing the embers, stir the ashes again.

Camp on solid surfaces

  • Make sure you travel on solid surfaces and avoid damaging the ground.
  • As long as we camp responsibly, we should cause less impact than established campgrounds.
  • Make sure that you are 100 feet away from streams when setting up your camp.
  • Choosing a site away from large clearings will allow you to still enjoy the wilderness even if other campers are nearby.
  • Avoid damage to the environment by staying off fields to access camping sites.
  • To minimize new impacts on plants, soil, and wildlife, choose a previously-used site when camping in an area where others have done so before.
  • Campers should also avoid damaging plants and grass by using bare soil or gravel rather than smearing dirt.
  • You should look for a flat surface to create a staging area; do not dig up the ground or try to level it.
  • Keeping the wild feel of dispersed camping alive can be achieved by traveling and camping on solid surfaces.

Dispersed Camping Big Sur – FAQs

What part of California allows dispersed camping?
The National Forest does not allow dispersed camping except around Huntington Lake, Shaver Lake, Bass Lake, Redinger Lake, and the Merced River Canyon. You always need a permit for a campfire on public property outside of a developed campground.
Is dispersed camping allowed in Los Padres National Forest?
There is currently no dispersed camping allowed in Los Padres National Forest provided for the public.
Is Dispersed Camping available in Big Sur?
Yes, Dispersed Camping is available in Los Padres National Forest, Prewitt Ridge Campground lies near Highway 101, a dispersed site, which means there are no toilets, running water, or reservations available. It is one of the greatest camping gems in the region if you prepare with lots of water and food.
In California, what areas are suitable for dispersed camping?
The following places are suitable for dispersed camping: ➔ The Orr Lake Campground is situated in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. ➔ Camping in the Black Rock Campground of the Lassen National Forest. ➔ Dispersed camping in Mendocino National Forest. ➔ Dispersed camping in the Modoc National Forest. ➔ The campground near Mammoth Lakes is called Glass Creek. ➔ The Inyo National Forest offers dispersed camping.
What is dispersed camping in California?
Camping at a dispersed site means not staying in a designated campground. There are some restrictions on dispersing camps in most national forests and on BLM lands. For national forests, the green polygons correspond to areas where camping is permitted; for BLM lands, the yellow polygons correspond to areas where camping is not permitted.
Is it possible to camp for free in California?
Camping is generally free in California, and the best sites can be found on BLM or USFS land. There are often pullouts on dirt roads with cattle guards if you take a random turn down one of these roads.
What is the cost of camping in Big Sur?
The cost of a standard campsite at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is $35/night. The cost of a premium campsite is $50/night at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park offers an environmentally friendly campsite for $30/night.
Which campsites are the best in Big Sur?
Below are the best campgrounds on the Big Sur: ➔ State Park in Limekiln. ➔ The campground at Plaskett Creek. ➔ Ventana campground at Big Sur. ➔ Cabins and campgrounds along the Riverside. ➔ State Park of Julia Pfeiffer Burns. ➔ A State Park in the Pfeiffer Big Sur region.



Certainly, one of the most magical and memorable places to visit while camping in Big Sur, and it’s also one of the most beautiful places in the United States to visit. Sadly, Big Sur has undergone some significant changes over the years. One of the most stunning stretches of coastline in the United States is the Big Sur Dispersed Camping area!

No matter where you decide to camp, you will make memories that will last a lifetime, regardless of whether you prefer glamping or camping off the beaten track. Campers love dispersed camping in Big Sur because it requires less preparation which can be done quickly. No reservations are necessary because it is free and there is no charge. In addition, Big Sur offers an abundance of Dispersed Camping opportunities.

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