Nestled along California’s breathtaking Central Coast, Big Sur is a magical place like no other. With its rugged cliffs, towering redwoods rv camping, waterfalls, and beaches, it’s easy to see why so many consider it to be one of the most beautiful coastal regions in the world.
For RV enthusiasts, rv camping in Big Sur is an absolute dream come true. Waking up to epic ocean views, exploring secret coves, and experiencing the wild beauty of this special place is an unforgettable adventure.
In this guide, I’ll provide everything you need to know to plan the ultimate RV camping trip in Big Sur, from finding campgrounds and navigating forest roads to must-see attractions and activities. Let’s dive in!
Table of ContentsToggle
One of the best parts of RVing in Big Sur is spending the night right along the coast or tucked beneath the redwoods. Here are some of the top places to camp with an RV in the area:
3 state park campgrounds in Big Sur accept RVs:
These parks tend to book up early, so reserve your spot online well in advance.
The Los Padres National Forest has 2 developed campgrounds that can accommodate RVs:
These campgrounds are first-come, first-served. Arrive early to claim your spot.
Dispersed camping is also allowed throughout the forest. Check regulations and get a free permit before camping outside developed campgrounds.
If you want full hookups and amenities, there are a couple of private RV parks in the Big Sur area:
These parks tend to be pricier but may be worth it for the convenience and amenities. Make reservations early!
One of the tricky parts of RVing on the Central Coast is navigating the narrow, winding forest service roads. Many attractions and campgrounds are accessed via primitive dirt and gravel roads.
Here are some tips for tackling forest service roads in Big Sur with your RV:
With caution and common sense, forest service roads are completely doable for most RVs. Just take it slow and watch your vehicle. The magical remote sites are so worth it!
Now for the fun part – exploring the incredible Big Sur! Here are some attractions and sights you absolutely must check out on an RV trip:
This iconic 80-foot waterfall on the coast is one of Big Sur’s most famous landmarks. Watch in awe as it cascades directly onto the beach. An easy 0.6-mile trail leads to several viewpoints.
With its huge rock formations, turquoise waters, and purple sand, Pfeiffer Beach is a surreal hidden gem. Parking is limited, so try to arrive early. 一个
Take a tour up to this 1889 lighthouse perched dramatically on a volcanic rock. Guides share stories and history during the guided walk.
Walk the dramatic Headlands Trail for incredible ocean vistas. Keep a watch for Point Sur, sea otters, and migrating whales.
Among the redwoods, check out the unique multi-level Big Sur River Gorge. Popular trails lead to scenic vistas and waterfalls.
Visit the historic 1887 lime kilns and soak in views of the remote wild coastline. Tours are offered on summer weekends.
The star attraction is McWay Falls, but the Ewoldsen Trail also winds through spectacular coastal scenery.
Stop for incredible artisan baked goods, pizza, sandwiches, and more. It’s a popular spot, so be prepared to wait.
Soak in the views while enjoying a cocktail and Ambrosia burger on the cliffside deck at this Big Sur institution.
Big Sur is crisscrossed by amazing hiking trails just begging to be explored. Here are some of my top picks for hikes accessible to RVers:
This easy 5-mile loop crosses the iconic Bixby Bridge and follows the Big Sur River with chances to spot wildlife along the way.
For a moderate 2.4-mile hike to a gorgeous 60-foot waterfall cascading into a valley. Requires some uphill climbing on return.
Starting across from the Big Sur Lodge, this moderate 7.5-mile loop climbs up ridges and joins the Manuel Peak Trail for expansive ocean views.
A 6.4-mile roundtrip trail with 1,800 feet elevation gain leading up ridge lines to unbeatable panoramic vistas of the coast.
For DIY adventures, this dirt road traverses high ridgelines with nonstop views. Hike as far as you like to secluded overlooks.
With so many stunning trails, hiking is undoubtedly one of the top activities to enjoy during a Big Sur RV getaway. Don’t miss out on hiking at least some of these spectacular routes.
Beyond hiking, there are plenty more things to see and do on an RV trip to Big Sur. Some additional activities worth enjoying include:
With so much natural beauty and diversity, the possibilities for adventure are endless in Big Sur. Get out there and make the most of it!
When RVing in Big Sur, it helps to stock up on provisions before you go since grocery stores and shops are limited. Here are some options:
Monterey – Safeway, Whole Foods, Target, and other major retailers for pre-trip shopping
Carmel-by-the-Sea – Multiple markets and stores along Ocean Avenue in Carmel Plaza
Big Sur Village – Small general store with limited groceries and camping supplies
Nepenthe Restaurant – Convenience items available at the restaurant gift shop
Rio Grill, Post Ranch Inn – Pick up basics like milk, bread, and eggs at the Rio Grill. The Post Ranch Inn also has convenience items.
Big Sur Bakery – Fresh baked breads, pastries, and pizza are available at this popular local bakery.
Deetjen’s Restaurant – Grab snacks, coffee, and camping items at the Deetjen’s gift shop.
Once you’re settled into your campground in Big Sur, the best options for restocking food and supplies are making a run back north or visiting one of the few local spots listed above. With some planning, you can pack in everything you need for a week or more of camping so you don’t have to leave!
As a major tourist destination, Big Sur often sees high volumes of visitors in summer. Here are some tips for minimizing your impact and practicing responsible RV camping when you visit:
By being respectful and minimizing impacts, we can keep Big Sur beautiful in the long run. Follow campground regulations, model good behavior for others, and do your part to Leave No Trace.
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about enjoying Big Sur by RV:
What is the best time of year to RV camp in Big Sur?
The best times are generally spring (March-May) and fall (September-November). Summer is busier with fewer campsite openings. Winter brings potential road closures.
Which campgrounds can accommodate large RVs or trailers?
Fernwood Resort, Big Sur Campground, and the National Forest campgrounds have sites suited for large rigs. State park sites tend to be tighter.
Can I camp in my RV on the side of Highway 1 or other roads?
No, roadside camping is illegal. RVs must stay in designated campgrounds with park services.
Is camping with an RV safe from theft or break-ins?
Reasonable precautions apply, but Big Sur sees very little crime. Campground hosts and rangers patrol regularly. Lock valuables out of sight.
Are pets allowed at the campgrounds and on trails?
Yes, pets are allowed in campgrounds and on many trails in Big Sur, as long as kept on a leash. Be sure to pick up after them and prevent noise issues.
Meandering along Highway 1 through the redwoods, watching the waves crash far below, there’s no denying the magic and wonder of Big Sur. With miles of protected wilderness and stunning spots like Mc Way Falls, there’s so much to explore.
RVing allows you to experience it all on your flexible schedule while sleeping under the stars or just steps from the coast each night.
By booking campgrounds in advance, taking it slow on backroads, and practicing responsible camping, How tall are travel trailers? Unlocking their vertical dimensions adds a new perspective to your journey, ensuring a seamless exploration of iconic destinations like Big Sur; whether it’s your first time visiting or your fifth, you’re sure to have an epic adventure.
The call of the coast awaits you. Let the planning begin – I hope this guide gets you one step closer to an amazing RV trip in one of the world’s most beautiful places!