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Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

Hike, camp or picnic among the redwood trees, waterfalls and dramatic coastal cliffs that have inspired artists, poets and writers for the past century. 

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is a 1,000-acre (400-hectare) State Park on the California coast. The area takes its name from John Pfeiffer, whose family were European settlers in the 19th century. Perfect for hiking, camping and swimming, this park features stunning views across the Big Sur Valley, the Big Sur River Gorge and the Pacific Ocean. You’ll see a wide variety of large-tree species, including redwoods, oaks, sycamores and maples. Also, keep an eye out for the wildlife, including black-tailed deer, raccoons, skunks and varied birdlife.

The best way to experience the park is on foot so that you don’t miss anything. Explore the three-mile (five-kilometer) Valley View Trail, which takes in Pfeiffer Falls, the park’s 60-foot (18-meter) waterfall. The trail is a bit steep in parts, rising 200 feet (60 meters), offering stunning views over the falls and the park’s many creeks and redwoods. More experienced hikers can try the 4.5-mile (seven-kilometer) Ewoldsen Trail, at the nearby Julie Pfeiffer Burns Park, which is steeper and more strenuous in parts. Don’t miss McWay Falls, which tumble straight from the cliffside onto the beach. The beach itself is off-limits, but for spectacular year-round views, check out the overlook near the parking lot.

In summer, swim in the Big Sur River, which runs through the park and empties into the Pacific Ocean. Pitch your tent on the park’s campsites situated at picturesque spots along the riverbanks. The park offers an information center, kiosk, restrooms, showers and a laundry. The Big Sur Lodge offers motel-style accommodation and a restaurant. 

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park borders the Ventana Wilderness area, an additional 320 miles (515 kilometers) of hiking trails. The area is just inland from the California coast, 28 miles (42 kilometers) south of Carmel. Driving is the best way to get here, and there are also some coastal bus tours from travel agencies in Monterey. The park opens 30 minutes before sunrise and closes after sunset. Bring a picnic or snacks as food options are limited to a café and grocery store at the Big Sur Lodge.


Guide to Exploring around Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park


Best Lodging Options Near Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

See all 615 Properties near Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park
Big Sur Lodge $279
Big Sur Lodge

Big Sur Lodge

47225 Highway One, Big Sur, CA
     
    3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    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 is 1.9 mi (3.1 km) away.

    Gorgeous Modern Home With Ocean Views in the Heart of Big Sur
    Gorgeous Modern Home With Ocean Views in the Heart of Big Sur

    Gorgeous Modern Home With Ocean Views in the Heart of Big Sur

    Big Sur, CA
       
      0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      Situated by the ocean, this vacation home is 0.9 mi (1.4 km) from Big Sur Station and 2.2 mi (3.6 km) from Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Big Sur Spirit Garden is 0.9 mi (1.4 km) away.

      Big Sur Ecomodern Farmhouse Overlooking the Pacific Ocean
      Big Sur Ecomodern Farmhouse Overlooking the Pacific Ocean

      Big Sur Ecomodern Farmhouse Overlooking the Pacific Ocean

      Big Sur, CA
         
        0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        This family-friendly Big Sur vacation home is located by the ocean, within 2 mi (3 km) of Big Sur Station and Big Sur Spirit Garden. Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and Andrew Molera State Park are also within 6 mi (10 km).

        Ventana Big Sur, an Alila Resort - Adults Only
        Ventana Big Sur, an Alila Resort - Adults Only

        Ventana Big Sur, an Alila Resort - Adults Only

        48123 Highway One, Big Sur, CA
           
          4.5 out of 5.0 Stars

          Situated in Big Sur, this luxury resort is 0.8 mi (1.3 km) from Big Sur Spirit Garden and 2 mi (3.2 km) from Big Sur Station. Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park are also within 9 mi (15 km).

          Beautiful Big Sur With Pool/spa, Close in Location to all Big Sur has to Offer
          Beautiful Big Sur With Pool/spa, Close in Location to all Big Sur has to Offer

          Beautiful Big Sur With Pool/spa, Close in Location to all Big Sur has to Offer

          Big Sur, CA
             
            0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

            Located in Big Sur, this beachfront resort is in the city center, 1.2 mi (2 km) from Big Sur Spirit Garden, and 2.4 mi (3.9 km) from Big Sur Station. Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and McWay Falls are also within 9 mi (15 km).

            Carmel Valley Villa Near Hiking & Wine Tasting $175
            Carmel Valley Villa Near Hiking & Wine Tasting

            Carmel Valley Villa Near Hiking & Wine Tasting

            Carmel Valley, CA
               
              0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Situated in the mountains, this vacation home is 8.6 mi (13.9 km) from Carmel Valley Community Park and 11.5 mi (18.5 km) from Garland Ranch Regional Park. WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca and Folktale Winery and Vineyards are also within 20 mi (32 km).

              Mountain Paradise in Carmel Valley California
              Mountain Paradise in Carmel Valley California

              Mountain Paradise in Carmel Valley California

              Carmel Valley, CA
                 
                0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                Situated in the mountains, this vacation home is 8.6 mi (13.9 km) from Carmel Valley Community Park and 11.5 mi (18.5 km) from Garland Ranch Regional Park. WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca and Folktale Winery and Vineyards are also within 20 mi (32 km).

                Tuscan-style Retreat, in the Country With 360 Views, Upper Carmel Valley
                Tuscan-style Retreat, in the Country With 360 Views, Upper Carmel Valley

                Tuscan-style Retreat, in the Country With 360 Views, Upper Carmel Valley

                Carmel Valley, CA
                   
                  0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Situated in a rural location, this romantic vacation home is 13.9 mi (22.4 km) from Carmel Valley Community Park and within 25 mi (40 km) of WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca and Garland Ranch Regional Park. 17-Mile Drive and Carmel Beach are also within 32 mi (52 km).