Located in Big Sur, one of California’s most distinctive coastal landscapes, Andrew Molera State Park provides visitors with plenty of opportunities to enjoy the beach and the wilderness surrounding it.
Andrew Molera State Park camping is one-of-a-kind because campers enjoy spending their evenings on land with a rich history dating back over a century ago. Campers also enjoy the serenity of staying on the Big Sur River.
This camping guide will share with you what you can expect at the park, fun activities you won’t want to miss out on, and the best spots to set up camp. Read on to learn all about Andrew Molera State Park camping and more!
History of Andrew Molera State Park
The land that makes up Andrew Molera State Park was originally part of the large Rancho del Sur property owned by the Molera family. Andrew Molera ran the ranch from 1915 until he died in 1931.
Rancho del Sur was well-known for its Monterey jack cheese, horses, and vegetables. Andrew was the first person in California to commercially cultivate artichokes.
Andrew’s sister, Frances, a California historian, wanted to preserve where her brother’s ranch was located, so she contacted the Conservancy to do just that. The Conservancy protected the land that makes up Andrew Molera State Park in 1965.
Frances died in 1968, and the park opened four years later.
What to Expect at Andrew Molera State Park
Andrew Molera State Park is still mostly undeveloped, but it hosts 55,000 visitors annually and has over 20 miles of trails that wind through lovely meadows, bluffs, beaches, and hills. The park also offers visitors plenty of beach combing opportunities.
The park is the perfect place to spend the day or camp overnight. Parking is allowed only in the designated parking lot, and RVs and trailers are prohibited.
Dogs are not allowed on the trails, though they are allowed in the parking lot and adjoining picnic benches. So while you cannot take your dog hiking with you, you can bring your furry friend along for a picnic.
A temporary, seasonal footbridge will be installed from June 15 to October 15 to allow pedestrians access to the Big Sur River and access the Creamery Meadow Trail that leads to the beach.
Fishing in the Big Sur area is highly restricted. Read the California Fishing and Hunting Regulations before fishing at the park.
Visit the Molera Ranch House Museum to learn what it was like to live in Big Sur 100 years ago. Located near the River Crossing and Discovery Center, the Ranch House is staffed by a volunteer from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. during peak season (April to October).
The Discovery Center is run by a non-profit called Ventana Wildlife Society. It is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. when staff is available.
Learn more about spending the day at Andrew Molera State Park, including parking fees, hours, and details about state park passes.
Before heading out for a hike, check which trails are open.
Future of Andrew Molera State Park
Ventana Wildlife Society is collaborating with Andrew Molera State Park to build an educational outdoor recreation area. The project was announced in the summer of 2022 and aims to open the S’MORE area in the fall of 2023.
S’MORE aims to provide families with an area to camp and learn all year round through creative activities.
Andrew Molera State Park Camping
Camping reservations are taken online up to six months in advance, and dogs are not allowed at campsites.
Andrew Molera State Park offers only hike-in tent camping, which includes 22 standard tent sites and two hike-and-bike spots.
Best Spots for Camping at Andrew Molera State Park
The two hike-and-bike spots are located near the trail to the parking lot, perfect for hikers and bikers camping for the night. Campers are only allowed to occupy these spots for two nights maximum.
Looking for shade? Andrew Molera State Park camping sites have several! These Andrew Molera State Park camping sites offer full shade: 4, 7, and 8, and these camping sites offer partial shade: 5, 6, 11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18, 19, 21, 22, and 24.
If being near a restroom is important, stay in sites 9, 15, or 21.
Water pumps are available near the hike-and-bike spots and sites 4, 5, 9, 13, 15, 21, and 24.
Spots 11, 14, 17, and 18 are on the Big Sur River.
Download the Andrew Molera State Park Camping Map before heading to the park to select your favorite spots. Remember to reserve online to make sure it’s available when you arrive. Learn more about Andrew Molera State Park camping, including fees, rules, and discounts.
Make Sure to Bring When Camping at Andrew Molera State Park
Pack layered clothing for camping at Andrew Molera State Park. The park experiences fast-changing weather and can be anywhere from 50 degrees to 80 Fahrenheit in the summer and 30 to 50 Fahrenheit in the winter.
You will want to pack a portable shower because no shower is on site. If you’ve never set up a camping shower before, read about how to set up the perfect camping shower before heading out to camp at Andrew Molera State Park.
Also, bring along your firewood or some money to purchase firewood. Firewood gathering is strictly prohibited at Andrew Molera State Park.
Activities at the Park
California’s coastal water activities like windsurfing, surfing, and boating are sought-after sports visitors, and campers enjoy at Andrew Molera State Park. Campers and visitors also love beach combing, sunbathing, and building sandcastles.
Picnic areas allow visitors and campers to enjoy the company of friends and family outdoors. The area near the visitors’ parking lot is the only place dogs are allowed.
Guided tours are also provided for schools and groups. Learn more about field trip opportunities for grades K-12.
Wrapping up Andrew Molera State Park
Andrew Molera State Park is a wonderful place to connect with nature and disconnect from the busy world. Are you interested in learning more about places to camp in California? Check out 21 Amazing Destinations for Free Camping in California.