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McWay Falls
Vacation Travel Guide

Walk to this pretty waterfall, stand at viewpoints with superb coastal views and spot varied wildlife in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.

McWay Falls is a picturesque waterfall that cascades directly from a cliff onto the sandy shore of McWay Beach. It stands about 80 feet (24 meters) tall in the heart of Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. McWay Falls originally flowed straight into the Pacific Ocean but a landslide in 1983 dropped rocks into the water and thus created the beach. The falls’ water supply comes from McWay Creek, which runs down from the framing mountains.

Enjoy views of the waterfall and dramatic coastline from the lookout points scattered along a series of walking trails. Follow the Waterfall Overlook Trail around the cliffs above McWay Cove to a waterfall-facing viewpoint. Watch as the water spills out of a rock face and splashes onto the isolated and inaccessible beach.

Continue to the end of the trail. From here view the remains of a one-time residence now called Waterfall House. Find interpretive panels with information and historical facts about the house. One panel has photos of the waterfalls’ appearance prior to the landslide.

Sit on one of the benches and gaze out over the Pacific Ocean’s deep blue water. Between December and April, it’s often possible to see migrating gray whales. Spot sea otters, seals and birds such as oystercatchers and pelicans.

Return to the start of the trail, where it connects with inland hiking paths. Take the 5-mile-long (8-kilometer) Ewoldsen Trail through a redwood forest to a scenic picnic area. Walk the short Canyon Trails to Canyon Falls. Visit the Penton Wheel House, a power plant that once supplied energy to the old houses and blacksmith workshop in the area.

Located in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, McWay Falls is just a 25-minute drive from Big Sur Village. Parking is available at the trailheads with a per-car admission fee. The park and trails are open from sunrise to sunset. You can also park for free on Highway One, although spaces are limited, and access the trails without charge.

Top Hotels Close to McWay Falls

Ventana Big Sur, an Alila Resort - Adults Only
Ventana Big Sur, an Alila Resort - Adults Only
4.5 out of 5
48123 Highway One, Big Sur, CA
The price is $1,665 per night from Mar 23 to Mar 24

Situated by the ocean, this luxury resort is 0.9 mi (1.4 km) from Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and 2 mi (3.2 km) from Big Sur Station. Andrew Molera State Park ...

4.5/5Wonderful! (327 reviews)

"The property is in an incredible setting. The facility itself is beautiful. It is, however, very expensive. The biggest drawback is the food. Very uneven in quality. Breakfasts are good, other food is mediocre. In spite of that, I had an amazing time."…"

Reviewed on Nov 30, 2020

Ventana Big Sur, an Alila Resort - Adults Only
Big Sur Lodge
Big Sur Lodge
3 out of 5
47225 Highway One, Big Sur, CA
The price is $199 per night from Mar 9 to Mar 10

Situated near the beach, this hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Big Sur Station and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Big Sur Spirit Garden and Andrew Molera State Park ...

4/5Very Good! (421 reviews)

"The grounds surrounding the Big Sur lodge and cottage, are beautiful with all the redwood trees."…"

Reviewed on Feb 22, 2021

Big Sur Lodge
Morning Glory Ranch, Ocean View Homestead w/ Infinity Pool and Hot Tub
Morning Glory Ranch, Ocean View Homestead w/ Infinity Pool and Hot Tub
Big Sur, CA
Get Rates

Situated by the ocean, this romantic cabin is 2.7 mi (4.3 km) from Limekiln State Park and 2.7 mi (4.3 km) from Limekiln State Wilderness. New Camaldoli Hermitage ...

4.6/5Exceptional! (37 reviews)
Off the Grid

"The views during the day were spectacular and the stars at night were unparalleled for anywhere remotely close to major cities."…"

Reviewed on Jan 19, 2021

Morning Glory Ranch, Ocean View Homestead w/ Infinity Pool and Hot Tub
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

Top McWay Falls Flight + Hotel Deals

Hotel Shattuck Plaza
Calistoga Motor Lodge and Spa
Craftsman Inn
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Best Lodging Options Near McWay Falls

Ventana Big Sur, an Alila Resort - Adults Only
Ventana Big Sur, an Alila Resort - Adults Only
4.5 out of 5
48123 Highway One, Big Sur, CA
The price is $1,665 per night from Mar 23 to Mar 24
Ventana Big Sur, an Alila Resort - Adults Only
Big Sur Lodge
Big Sur Lodge
3 out of 5
47225 Highway One, Big Sur, CA
The price is $199 per night from Mar 9 to Mar 10
Big Sur Lodge
Morning Glory Ranch, Ocean View Homestead w/ Infinity Pool and Hot Tub
Morning Glory Ranch, Ocean View Homestead w/ Infinity Pool and Hot Tub
Big Sur, CA
Morning Glory Ranch, Ocean View Homestead w/ Infinity Pool and Hot Tub
Carmel Valley Villa Near Hiking & Wine Tasting
Carmel Valley Villa Near Hiking & Wine Tasting
Carmel Valley, CA
The price is $129 per night from Mar 11 to Mar 12
Carmel Valley Villa Near Hiking & Wine Tasting
Mountain Paradise in Carmel Valley California
Mountain Paradise in Carmel Valley California
Carmel Valley, CA
Mountain Paradise in Carmel Valley California
3799 Carmel Valley Retreat ~ Pool, Jacuzzi, Game Room, Family Home
3799 Carmel Valley Retreat ~ Pool, Jacuzzi, Game Room, Family Home
Carmel Valley, CA
3799 Carmel Valley Retreat ~ Pool, Jacuzzi, Game Room, Family Home
Blue Sky Lodge
Blue Sky Lodge
2 out of 5
10 Flight Rd, Carmel Valley, CA
The price is $119 per night from Mar 11 to Mar 12
Blue Sky Lodge
Family-friendly/Peninsula venues. Dec. dates now avail.
Family-friendly/Peninsula venues. Dec. dates now avail.
Carmel Valley, CA
Family-friendly/Peninsula venues. Dec. dates now avail.
Carmel Valley Ranch - The Unbound Collection by Hyatt
Carmel Valley Ranch - The Unbound Collection by Hyatt
4 out of 5
One Old Ranch Road, Carmel, CA
The price is $323 per night from Mar 11 to Mar 12
Carmel Valley Ranch - The Unbound Collection by Hyatt
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.