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Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park
Ranked #5 of 33 things to do in Big Sur
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Reviewed July 28, 2013 via mobile

This place is great. The two most popular trails are the waterfall and valley view trails. The gem however is the Buzzard's Roost trail...more red wood groves, a stretch running along the crystal clear Big Sur River and views of the Pacific.

Thank GregB1224
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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391 - 395 of 629 reviews

Reviewed July 23, 2013

Campground is beautifully shaded with large tree and a lot of undergrowth, but be careful because there is a lot of poison oak. Camp spaces are large and well kept, some on the river which in July was more like a shallow stream, but nice for wading. Restrooms included showers that took tokens (5 minutes for $1) and electrical outlets (often being used to charge cellphone) and were relatively clean.

One great day trip is to the Point Lobos Lighthouse lead by very knowledgeable volunteers. Trip includes a tour a beautiful walk up to the top of the hill. Docents stop at several places to give history of area and stories, tour of lighthouse and head light-keepers house lovingly restored to look like 1950. Currently tours are given on Weds (10:00 & 2:00), Sat (10:00 & 2:00). Arrive early because the tour size is limited to about 40 people. We were third car in line at 9:30 for the Weds tour in July. Look for the gate to the light house, then line up on the ocean side of the road where you see a little dirt area to the north of the gate. A volunteer will come out, open the gate and direct you to follow the road to small parking area at the base of the hill. There are nice port-a-potties (flush style) at both the base of the hill and at the top. Tour costs $12 for adults and $8 for kids and take 3 hours. Our 10 year old found it very interesting.

In the afternoon we went to Andrew Molera State Park. It was a lovely one-mile level walk to the beach. My daughter was hoping to swim in the ocean, but when we got there the wind was blowing so hard it felt like we were getting sandblasted. Quickly turned and left. Went to have an ice-cream at one of the local stores instead. Andrew Molera State Park is free is you are camping at Pfeiffer Big Sur.

Point Lobos State Beach was another great day trip. Go during low-tide and you will find many tide-pool filled will sea-anemone, sea-urchins, and crabs. I also really enjoyed watching the endangered California Condor soar over head - if you have binoculars they are easy to identify by their red heads. Beautiful view from nice flat trails that follow the cliffs. If you are staying at the State Park, you vehicle is free to enter this state park as well. We spent about 4 hours walking, exploring tide-pools, watching seals and having a picnic lunch.

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is where you can find the amazing McWay Falls. We parked on the side of the road (parking lot was full). It is a short walk on a dirt trail down to the viewing point for the falls and looks like paradise. You cannot go to the base of the falls or the beach near the falls, and was quite crowded, but still very worth your time. We spent about an hour here.

Pfeiffer Beach, yet another spot with a similar name, is run by the national forest service. It is a place where the kids can actually get wet in the pacific ocean (if you can stand the cold water), but a really beautiful spot.

2  Thank PepeLePugh3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 18, 2013

Be careful, we ran into a few people while in the Big Sur area who were looking for Pfeiffer Beach and/or McWay Falls at this location. The names can be confusing! Pfeiffer Beach is a site unto itself and McWay Falls is in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park which is not the same as Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. We hiked the Falls and the combined it with the valley view trail. The hike to both venues is pretty well uphill all the way there and we ran into a few people who had turned around as a result of the climb. We visited in early July and the falls were not that impressive the valley view was good but not as great as what we saw on other hikes. The redwoods were nice especially if you do not make it into Yosemite to see the Mariposa grove. This is a nice way to spend a few hours if you are in the area and looking for something to do but I wouldn't go out of my way to include it on the itinerary. Your time is better spend at Pfeiffer Beach or at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.

5  Thank AndreeM389
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 15, 2013

You need to reserve a camp site at least six months in advance to get the dates you want, but it's well-worth the planning. The camp sites are wonderful ... fire pits, restrooms, showers, etc. We had a wonderful weekend here and look forward to returning. And if you're tired of camp fire cooking, there's a decent restaurant at the park. Win/win!! :)

1  Thank cabearcat
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 14, 2013

Very crowded hiking trails. We did the hike to Pfeiffer falls. The falls themselves were not too impressive, but the redwood groves were stunning. A good, short hike. We did this one in the morning, and Andrew Molera State Park in the afternoon.

1  Thank Dan269
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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