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Is There Still Free Camping in Big Sur?

Is There Still Free Camping in Big Sur? 

You may have heard that free camping is slowly disappearing in places such as Big Sur. This is disappointing and, in some cases, could have been avoided.

Some BLM (Bureau of Land Management) dispersed camping is going away. Unfortunately, it’s due to people leaving trash and harming the ecosystem. At the same time, other reasons include the sheer volume of RVers vying for campsites.

We want to encourage people to do their part and leave no trace. Free camping has been a privilege, and the RV community wants to keep it that way. So what about Big Sur? In this article, we let you know if it still has free camping. 

Let’s dive in!

About Big Sur

Big Sur, California, is a natural masterpiece with cliffs cascading into blue waters. It’s a 90-mile stretch of coastline along Pacific Coast Highway 1 between Carmel and San Simeon. The Santa Lucia Mountains are to the west and the Pacific Ocean to the east. 

Big Sur is an adventurer’s playground with camping, hiking, beachcombing, and surfing. It’s also a photographer’s dream, as it’s one of the most extended stretches of undeveloped coasts in the United States.

Plus, you may get a glimpse of significant sea life, including whales, in Monterey Bay.

free camping in big sur. scenic views and stunning cliffs
Cascading cliffs and clear blue water, Big Sur is a stunning site to see.

Can You Take RVs to Big Sur? 

You can take small RVs to Big Sur. However, we recommend not taking big rigs. For example, we would avoid taking a set up, RV and vehicle, longer than 35 feet. The roads are narrow and winding, making for some potentially harrowing turns.

In addition, you can only take an RV to some of the developed campgrounds in the area. There are state parks and private campgrounds in the area, but size restrictions may apply. Be sure to double-check their information before booking. 

free camping in big sur allowed for tents only
Free camping is available for tents only.

Is There Free Camping in Big Sur? 

Free and dispersed campsites in Big Sur are available for tents only. Streamside camping is allowed in Big Sur Valley and oceanview. And bluff camping is available in the southern end of Big Sur.

Big Sur is a special place to the millions of people that visit annually. This means it’s more crowded than ever, making free camping for RVs a thing of the past. Be sure to practice sustainability while visiting to ensure people can enjoy the area for years to come.

Is There Dispersed Camping in Big Sur? 

Unlike some areas in California, Monterey County prohibits camping along Highway 1 from the Carmel River to the Monterey-San Luis County line. Motorists and RVers can stop for temporary rest, but camping is not allowed, nor are campfires or BBQs. There is also no camping allowed alongside Nacimiento-Fergusson Road except in established campgrounds.

Pro Tip: Big Sur is a place sure to take your breath away. We found some of our favorite campgrounds and spilled all of our secrets here: These Big Sur Campgrounds Are Magical

How to Get A Campsite in Big Sur

To get a campsite at a state park or private campground in Big Sur, we have three words. Book in advance! The area is extremely popular, and making reservations is likely the only way to get a campsite. 

We also recommend a backup plan. It will come in handy if you can’t get a reservation. Or if there is a wildfire in the area and the campground needs to close temporarily.

There are numerous campgrounds in Big Sur to choose from. California state parks in the area include Andrew Molera, Pfeiffer Burns, Limekiln, and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. And there are private campgrounds with RV sites, tent sites, and rental cabins.

What’s the Best Season to Camp in Big Sur? 

You can camp in Big Sur year-round, but one of the best times of year to visit is from September to November. Kids have gone back to school. Therefore the crowds start to disperse. It’s also after the heat of summer. 

December through March is a good time to get out of peak season rates. But this is the rainy season, and it will likely be cold. However, if the cold and wet doesn’t bother you, it’s an interesting time to see Big Sur in all its glory.

free camping in big sur
Camp in Big Sur all year long for stunning views and grand adventures.

Pro Tip: No matter the season, try disperse camping to spread out and not crowd your neighbor while in Big Sur. Find out more about: What Is Dispersed Camping?

What to Do and See in Big Sur

Besides camping, hiking is a popular activity in Big Sur. Some good day hikes include Buzzard’s Roost Trail. It’s a 4.8-mile loop with moderate difficulty. You get to walk among the redwood trees and get a glimpse of the coast. Pfeiffer Falls Trail is an easy 1.4-mile roundtrip hike. It takes you along Pfeiffer Big Sur Creek, redwood groves, and a 60-foot high waterfall.  

There are countless viewpoints throughout Big Sur. Beaches, like Pfeiffer Beach, are an excellent place to take in the scenery and a picnic. Calla Lilly Valley is also worth a stop. And Bixby Bridge is one of the most photographed places in Big Sur. There’s a pull-off on either side of the bridge to take in that iconic view.

free camping in big sur. bixby bridge.
Bixby Bridge is one of the most iconic views along Big Sur.


Ready to plan your RV trip to Big Sur? It’s genuinely a road trip that can create lasting memories—a bucket list item for sure. Just remember to plan and book your campsites well in advance. You’ll be glad you did, and your time in Big Sur will be a treat. If you visit, send us some photos and let us know what your favorite part of the trip was.

Discover the Best Free Camping Across the USA

To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy).

You should give it a try!

As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours. Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.

Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers who love to score the best site! 

We’ll send you the 50 Best Free Campsites in the USA (one per state). Access the list by submitting your email below:

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