Big Sur, California was our last stop on the epic pop up camper road trip. For years now, Mr. TypeTwoFun has been drooling over pictures of McWay Falls and asking to visit Big Sur. Since it was on our way home, I worked it into the trip route. There are so many iconic scenes along the road to Big Sur, but I have to tell you… none of them mattered to the two carsick girls in the backseat. If you have kids that are prone to carsickness, this road is a doozy. I loved the drive, but the girls were beyond happy when we arrived at our campsite.
It is a little tricky to reserve spots in the Big Sur area, because it is so popular. We really lucked out and found a perfect spot at Pfieffer Big Sur State Park. When we pulled into the campground, this gorgeous stream was just across from our site. Wowza! 🙂
Pfieffer Big Sur is gorgeous, but again, not as well run as the Oregon parks we visited. When we checked in, there were no maps or brochures given out, so we had no idea of the layout of the camp or hiking trails available. We were told we could purchase maps of the area, but our ranger station was all sold out. We would have to drive up the road to another state park if we wanted them.
We also discovered that if we wanted to shower, we needed to purchase non-refundable shower tokens. Shower times were reduced due to the drought, so the overall price per shower was pretty expensive. After our long drive, we were anxious to clean up, so we purchased enough tokens for our stay despite the price, and these girls made their way to the showers. The bathrooms here were probably in worse condition than the ones at Elk Prairie. They were filthy and not well maintained, but the water was warm. Thank goodness for that! 😉
On the bright side, our site was pretty large, and we had more than enough room to spread out. We were able to back the pop up camper into the wide parking area, and we still had enough room for the tow vehicle. Each site has a large picnic table and a fire ring with a grill. There are no hookups at Pfieffer Big Sur, but potable water is available at spigots throughout the campground. There is also a dump station in the campground, and a small visitors center/store/restaurant is within walking distance. As I mentioned, showers are available, but you must purchase tokens at the check-in kiosk. Campsites can be reserved in advance (which is highly recommended) for $30/night with an $8 reservation fee.
The next day, Mr. TypeTwoFun finally got to see McWay Falls… from a very far distance. McWay Falls is in Julia Pfieffer Burns State Park. You can’t really get down to the beach (that I know of), but there is a trail down to a viewing area. Unfortunately, when we arrived, the parking lot in the day-use area was already full. They weren’t allowing any more cars in, and there were already lines of cars parked along the highway. We found a little pull-off and jumped out to snap a quick picture. We were actually visiting in the middle of the week on a cloudy day, so I can’t imagine how crowded it is on the weekends. 😛
Because McWay Falls was pretty much a bust, we decided to hit the beach instead. We packed up some snacks and drove up to Andrew Molera State Park. Those PopUpGirls will take any chance they have to play in the ocean! The day cleared up and the weather was beautiful. We even saw an otter swimming around the cove.
An hour or so south of Pfieffer Big Sur, we came across an elephant seal viewing area. It was pretty amusing to watch those guys sunning themselves. They would often be laying there perfectly content, and then they’d turn on each other and begin fighting. It reminded me of a few tense moments in the car on our trip. Hahaha! 😉
Mr. TypeTwoFun and I took a quick hike to Pfeiffer Falls, too. The trailhead is right near the campground. When we asked the kids if they wanted to stay in camp, they agreed a little too quickly. I guess they’d had enough hiking for awhile. It was nice to get away, though, and the trail was very pretty.
At a suggestion from my sister, who had just visited Big Sur, we hiked through the campground to the Big Sur River Gorge. The gorge itself is very pretty, and perfect for swimming in warmer weather. It happened to be pretty overcast and chilly while we were there, so we didn’t really swim, but we enjoyed the area. If you are there in warmer weather, definitely check it out.
Before I knew it, our stay was over. We really enjoyed our time on the road, but the kids were kinda glad to see the trip come to an end. It was a long 21 days, but definitely worth it. The girls packed up the car for the very last time and did an amazing job fitting it all in. I asked the kids to pose in front of the camper with a sad face, but it was just too hard to pull it off convincingly, I guess. They were definitely ready for home.
We made some amazing memories, though. The kids were always goofing off and taking crazy pictures. PopUpBoy learned how to back up the car and hook up the trailer. They learned some history lessons, had some amazing adventures, tried new things, and saw beautiful places. I’m happy to report that there was lots of fighting, but also lots of laughing, so I guess that means it was a successful trip. I can’t wait for next year! 🙂
Helpful Tips for Pop Up Camping in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park
- There are several campgrounds in the surrounding area, but not all can accommodate trailers. We booked our campsite at Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground. There are NO hookups, although potable water is available at several water spigots around the campground. There is a dump station, but gray water can also be disposed of in gray water drains near the restrooms.
- There are semi-clean restrooms and token operated showers at the campground. Make sure to buy tokens at the check-in kiosk. 😉
- There were no bear boxes here. Yay! We did keep all our food in the tow vehicle, though. Make sure to keep a clean campsite. One night we forgot to take our trash to the dumpster and awoke at 2am to a skunk ripping the bag to shreds. No fun!
- Our particular site was rocky and a bit awkward, but it was large. It wasn’t very level, so make sure you’ve got some sort of leveling system. It took us a little longer to set up camp, as the roads were narrow, and backing up the trailer proved a little challenging. Allow yourself a little extra time if you have an awkwardly placed site.
- California is under severe restrictions due to the drought. Shower times were reduced, and water conservation signs were posted throughout the campground. We were allowed to have a fire, but the camp hosts drove around during the evening to monitor fire sizes and educate campers about fire danger.
Where did you visit this summer? Comment below or on our Facebook page. We’re always looking for new places to see!
New to The Pop Up Princess? Would you like to catch up on our road trip adventures from the past five years? You can find those links here: