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0 Layers
4.5
119 votes

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

52801 California State Route 1, Big Sur, California 93920 USA

$
$$$$
Budget
Open Now
Thu 12a-12a
  • Independent
  • Pet Friendly
  • Not Wheelchair Accessible
  • Public Restrooms
  • Outdoor Seating
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“a breathtaking panoramic ocean view vista”

This state park is named after Julia Pfeiffer Burns, a well respected pioneer woman in the Big Sur country. The park stretches from the Big Sur coastline into nearby 3,000-foot ridges. It features redwood, tan oak, madrone, chaparral, and an 80-foot waterfall that drops from granite cliffs into the ocean from the Overlook Trail. A panoramic view of the ocean and miles of rugged coastline is available from the higher elevations along the trails east of Highway 1.

The weather can be changeable. Layered clothing is advised. In winter, overnight temperatures can range in the 30s-5os (Fahrenheit). Winter daytime temperatures can be low 50s-70s. In summer, overnight temperatures can range in the 50s-70s, with daytime temperatures typicallys in the 70s-80s. Summer mornings bring fog, which usually burns off by midday. The park is open to day use visitors a half hour before sunrise to half hour after sunset. Kiosk opening and closing times are variable. Visitors are expected to self-register at the self pay station when the kiosk is closed. 

In December and January the bench at the end of Overlook trail is an excellent place to watch for gray whales migrating southward to their breeding and calving grounds off the Baja California coast. Many whales pass close to shore at this point, and occasionally one will come into the mouth of the cove. In March and April, they can be seen returning north to their summer feeding grounds in the North Pacific. 

Sea otters can sometimes be seen in the cove, and harbor seals and California sea lions are occasional visitors. Many sea and shore birds - sleek black cormorants, seagulls, brown pelicans, and black oystercatchers also make an appearance.  $10 per car, per day. Your entrance fee allows you access to all California state parks until sundown.

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Reviewed by
Joel Schat

  • Photographer
  • 238 Reviews
  • 405 Helpful
March 19, 2016

This is one of my all time favourite state parks. First off you have the legendary mcway falls which is literally a scene out of a dream. Then pfeiffer beach. After that you have a ton of other amazing looking scenes on the corner of each bend that will have you smiling as you drive the road! There is also free parking anywhere along the road for camping as long as you are just outside of the park boundary!

2 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Dakota

  • Blogger
  • 131 Reviews
  • 22 Helpful
March 19, 2016

The splendor of Big Sur is no secret. The steep climbs and overlooks in Big Sur are cinematic in their glory. It's easy to find resting seals along the shoreline.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Celia

  • 1 Review
  • 0 Helpful
July 05, 2016
Rated 5.0

This place is heaven on Earth. I was lucky enough to go camping here about 8 years ago. The hikes and nearby trails were life-changing. Waking up and cooking breakfast on an open fire with the fresh Big Sur air all around was something special. I will never forget it! Definitely part of an epic road trip!

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Reviewed by
lanceworley

  • 13 Reviews
  • 0 Helpful
June 13, 2016
Rated 5.0

You have to see this if you go to Big Sur (which you should) - most beautiful waterfall I've ever seen. Literally a waterfall pouring down from a mountain into a Pacific Coast lagoon!

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Reviewed by
JanaArellano

  • 1 Review
  • 0 Helpful
March 26, 2016
Rated 5.0

It was worth the drive to see such a beautiful view. A short walk but there are long trails available. The entire area is breath taking. You can park along the road for free but why not keep these parks open and support them. We are using them. I did not camp but on my list of to do.

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Reviewed by
mmcmahon

  • 2 Reviews
  • 0 Helpful
March 19, 2016

Awful. The washrooms are disgusting. You are basically 3 feet from the campers next to you. Not much privacy. You have to pay for 3 minutes of water in the shower but you will most likely feel more dirty than you did when you went in. And $35 a night! Ouch.

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Reviewed by
glitchtour

  • 2 Reviews
  • 1 Helpful
March 07, 2015

Perfect for a quick roadside stop, day trip or overnight camping. Bathrooms, water, parking lot, redwoods, coastal trails. Very beautiful.

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Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

52801 California State Route 1
Big Sur, California
93920 USA

Hours

Open 24 hours today
  • Sun - Sat: 12:00 am - 12:00 am

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  • Independent
  • Pet Friendly
  • Not Wheelchair Accessible
  • Public Restrooms
  • Outdoor Seating
  • No Wifi

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