Big Sur camping is some of the most beautiful camping in the USA. Ocean front views and redwood trees create the perfect “california-camping-vibes.”
From Carmel to San Simeon, this region hosts over 30 campgrounds. Many of them cost a pretty penny. However, today we’re giving your wallet a little relief.
We’re sharing seven free or cheap campsites in the Big Sur region of California (that you’ll still love).
Along with amenity & price info, each site will be rated with a Big Sur Camping Vibes score. This score is based on location, price and previous camper reviews.
Let’s dive in and get camping!
Willow Creek Road
Ideal for: Tent, car & van campers. This road may require 4 wheel drive – so if you’re in a car, a Subaru is your best bet. No amenities at campsite.
Why You’ll Love It: The views are breathtaking. This site sits atop a hillside with a view looking down onto the Pacific Ocean. The campsite is part of the Los Padres National Forest – this means you can camp here for up to 14 days.
If you love peaceful forest camping, not being bothered by RVs or lots of traffic, you’ll love this spot.
It’s important to note that the road in is 7 miles and relatively steep. If there’s been a recent rainfall, road conditions will worsen quickly.
Big Sur Camping Vibes: 9.2/10 Prime location & great price
Ideal for: Vans, Cars, Tents & Small RVs. Please Note: This campground is closed through August 8th 2019. After that day, it will hopefully reopen. No amenities at campsite.
Why You’ll Love It: The gravel road offers a lot of pull offs for camping and it has great access to the Big Sur coast. Some spots have established fire rings, too!
If you love to be disconnected from internet – this camping spot is for you. All reports we’ve seen show that no campers have had cellular internet at Nacinento Road.
Big Sur Camping Vibes: 6.3/10 Views good, but not spectacular. Price great, if campground is open.
Plaskett Creek Campground
Ideal for: Tents, Vans & RVs. Water spigot, toilet & picnic tables on site.
Why You’ll Love It: The views are the best you can find! This campground also has easy access to Sand Dollar Beach and the Willet Hiking Trail.
Whether you’re a planner of not, this site is good for you. 85% of the campground offers reservations and 15% is first come first serve.
We’ve heard reports that cell signal is available on AT&T if you have a cell booster.
Big Sur Camping Vibes: 10/10 Even though it costs $35, this site gives you great scenery and great access to activities.
Ideal for: Tents. The campground provides drinking water, a toilet and picnic tables.
Why You’ll Love It: Unlike the previous sites, located closer to the Pacific, Ponderosa Campground is tucked inland, situated along a mountain stream under the coverage of beautiful trees.
Due to its location, this campsite is among the most peaceful in the Big Sur Region. Most trailers can’t access it and the lack of internet keeps the crowds away.
The 21 campsites rarely fill up unless it’s a holiday weekend.
Big Sur Camping Vibes: 8.3/10 Rustic forest vibes and a good nightly rate!
Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park
Price: $35 and up.
Ideal for: Tents, vans & RV camping. This large State Park offers more amenities than any of the previously mentioned campgrounds. There are up-charges for site location; for example, along the Big Sur River.
Why You’ll Love It: This sites delivers awesome amenities and access to Big Sur. Showers, food service and a camp store are among the many benefits you’ll receive at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.
They also offer many educational activities like an interpretive center, wildlife viewing, guided tours and historical exhibits.
If you’re taking a family trip to Big Sur, Pfeiffer State Park is a great option.
Big Sur Camping Vibes: 7.7/10 Family friendly & affordable
Arroyo Seco Campground
Price: $25 and up
Ideal for: Tents, vans & RVs. The sites range from primitive to modern. Be aware, however: there is no electrical or dump stations on site.
Why You’ll Love It: This is another gem nestled in the Ventana Wilderness of Big sur. The remote location makes it super relaxing and quiet. The trade-off in no cell connectivity.
It does offer flush toilets & showers on site. There’s a river running through the grounds – great for a quick dip. It probably isn’t ideal for our folding kayak, but it might be worth a try.
Arroyo Seco has 80% of their sites in the reservation system and 20% are first come first serve.
Big Sur Camping Vibes: 6.8/10 You’ll either love or hate how remote this site is. We think remote is great!
Limekiln State Park
Price: $35 and up
Ideal for: Tents, vans and small RVs. Maximum length trailer is 15 feet, maximum length RV is 24 feet.
Why You’ll Love It: Ocean view camping sites! Not every site has an ocean view, but if you can score one, it’ll be the best $35 you’ve spent in a while! In addition to the scenery, Limekiln State Park offers multiple hiking trails – some that lead to the falls and others that lead to the Pacific Ocean.
Like most California State Parks, the facility has educational oppritunites available for anybody interested in the history and wildlife.
This is a family friendly park – perfect for a long weekend camping trip.
Big Sur Camping Vibes: 9.7/10 Well established campground & a price that’s pretty good!
The Best FREE Camping in the USA
We love camping across this amazing country. And, we really love it when its free. Here’s our list of the 20 Best Free Campsites in the USA.
If you haven’t tried free camping before, also known as boondocking, take a look at our beginners guide to boondocking filled with everything you need to know to get started.