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Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park Camping Guide

Welcome to the ultimate Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park Camping Guide! Nestled along the Big Sur coastline in California, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is a picturesque destination featuring majestic redwoods, panoramic ocean views, and the famous 80-foot McWay Falls.

If you’re seeking a unique and serene camping experience, look no further. This article will provide you with all the information you need to make the most of your time at this stunning location. Let’s dive in!

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park Camping


Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is located along Highway 1, approximately 37 miles south of Carmel and 12 miles south of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. It is over 3,700 acres of rugged coastline and bluffs, with steep hills covered in redwood, chaparral, madrone, and tan oak.

The park is named in honor of Julia Pfeiffer Burns, a respected pioneer woman who lived in the Big Sur area. In 1962, the park was established to preserve the diverse natural beauty and honor her legacy.

What to Expect at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park


The park enjoys a mild Mediterranean climate year-round. Spring and fall are the best times to visit, offering pleasant temperatures and fewer crowds. Winters can be wet, but the park remains open and accessible.

Crowd Levels

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is popular among visitors, especially during the summer months. To avoid the crowds, consider visiting on weekdays or during the off-peak seasons of spring and fall.


Parking is limited at the park, and spaces tend to fill up very quickly. There is also a maximum vehicle length of 22’. If there are no parking spots available, visitors are allowed to park on the side of Highway 1, but you must make sure that your car is completely off the road to ensure the safety of other travelers.

Campsites and Accommodations

julia pfeiffer burns state park camping

Environmental Campsites

The park offers two environmental campsites located on a cliff overlooking the ocean. These sites are hike-in only and have minimal amenities, providing a true back-to-nature experience. Campfires are not allowed at the environmental campsites, but you may use a portable camp stove for cooking. Cell phone reception can be limited or non-existent within the park, so plan accordingly. Pack enough water and food for the duration of your stay. It’s also important to practice Leave No Trace principles to preserve the park’s natural beauty.

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park offers basic amenities, including restrooms and picnic areas. However, there is no potable water available, so be sure to bring your own. Additionally, the park does not have a visitor center or camp store, so plan ahead and bring all necessary supplies.

Reservations are required and can be made up to six months in advance. You can make future reservations for these environmental campsites through California’s State Parks Reservation System.

Nearby Campgrounds

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park does not have RV or trailer camping options. However, nearby campgrounds like Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park may offer RV and trailer camping. If you’re looking for more traditional camping accommodations, there are several nearby campgrounds to choose from, such as Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and Limekiln State Park.

Pet Policy

Pets are not allowed on trails or in the environmental campsites, but they are allowed in the picnic areas and parking lots if leashed.

Things to Do


The park features several scenic hiking trails, including the McWay Falls Overlook Trail, the Ewoldsen Trail, and the Canyon Trail. These trails offer a variety of difficulty levels and showcase the park’s diverse landscape.

Please note that the area has a history of closures due to damage and unsafe road conditions from forest fires and heavy rains. Per the California Department of Parks and Recreation, the “assessment and repair of the damaged areas is ongoing.” Be sure to check for recent updates and closure notices before your visit to the park.

McWay Falls

julia pfeiffer burns state park

The most popular attraction in the park is McWay Falls, a majestic 80-foot waterfall that flows from McWay Creek into the Pacific ocean. At low tide, the water cascades down onto the sandy beach below, but at high tide, the waterfall becomes a tidefall and empties directly into the surf.

The viewing point is a great place to watch for condors flying above the falls and also whale watching in the ocean below. The falls are especially popular around sunrise and sunset, so be aware of potential crowding and take the limited parking into consideration when you plan your visit.

Wildlife Viewing

Keep an eye out for the park’s abundant wildlife, including sea otters, seals, and numerous bird species. Remember to maintain a safe distance and never approach or feed wild animals.


Capture the park’s stunning vistas and unique features with your camera. McWay Falls, redwood groves, and coastal cliffs provide countless opportunities for unforgettable shots. Be careful though as your traipsing through the park, trying to get that perfect shot. The Big Sur area is a true wilderness and Julia Pfeiffere Burns State Park is home to many different varieties of plants and wildlife.

Time to Plan Your Visit to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

julia pfeiffer burns state park camping

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park offers a one-of-a-kind camping experience amidst breathtaking scenery. With its stunning landscapes, diverse activities, and serene atmosphere, it’s the perfect destination for an unforgettable getaway. Use the information provided in this Julia Pfeiffer Burn State Park camping guide to plan your trip, and you’ll be well on your way to a memorable adventure.

For more information or to read more about options for your best camping trip yet, check out our page on state park camping!