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Whether you are going to Big Sur for a camping trip with an RV, a car and tent or even a bike, here are some really important tips.
1: Book every campground you plan to use. Book months ahead to make sure that you get the place you want. Most of the grounds keep half their campsites (pitches) for 'first come, first served' on the day, and that can make your planning a nightmare. It's not fun finding you have nowhere to stay in peak season or weekends.
2: Take small denomination bills and dollar bills. For the campgrounds you put money in an envelope for 'day booking' and also pay cash for wood. Keep plenty of small bills.
3: Fill up with fuel and water before you get onto Big Sur. There are garages selling water at a $1 for five gallons. Fuel on Big Sur is very expensive. You may also want to buy your food in the Monterey area or in San Luis Obispo. On the road choice is really reduced.
4: The larger the vehicle you have, the more intimidating it can be to drive down Big Sur. There are plenty of poor drivers through this area, and if you have to swerve to avoid someone you are the one closest to the ocean. Use caution and pay attention - if you want to look at the view, pull off the road and stop.
5: Explore the forestry roads -- however do not take large RVs on gravel roads. Los Burros (sometimes called Willow Creek Road) south of Plaskett, is well worth it and the drive is not too steep. It is a lot warmer in the hills, and you can bask in the sun during the day when the coast is shrouded in fog.
6: There are the big name camp sites, yet there are also lesser known ones such as Bottcher's Gap (close to Carmel) which is up Palo Colorada Road. The drive is magical, and the views are spectacular.
7: Do consider using Nacimiento-Fergusson Road as your entry point to Big Sur. It is narrow and very twisty, so not suitable for large RVs. But it is spectacular. There are two established camp grounds on the road: Nacimiento and Ponderosa.
8: If you find yourself without a place to stay, there is a chance you can overnight on the forestry roads, as they have less traffic and are patrolled less frequently. Overnight camping is not permitted along Highway 1.
Enjoy the Big Sur experience. Key is planning. Plan in fine detail and you won't go far wrong.