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Camping at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

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Overview of Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is located on the central coast of California, within Monterey County. This state park is named after Julia Pfeiffer Burns, a well-respected pioneer woman in the Big Sur area. The park is renowned for its breathtaking views, with 3,762 acres of both rugged and scenic coastline, including an 80-foot waterfall that drops from granite cliffs into the ocean from the Overlook Trail.

Camping Information

Camping Sites: Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park has two environmental campsites, accessible only by foot, called the South Garden and the North Garden. They are situated on a ledge about 300 feet above the ocean. These are tent-only sites, with very basic amenities.

Reservations: Camping reservations are highly recommended, as the campsites are limited and the park is very popular, especially in the summer months. Reservations can be made up to six months in advance through ReserveCalifornia, the official camping reservation system for California State Parks.

Facilities and Amenities:

  • Campsites are primitive, with no water, restrooms, or fire rings available.
  • Campers need to pack in all supplies, including water, and pack out all trash.
  • Fires are not permitted, but campers can use portable camping stoves.
  • Pets are not allowed in the environmental campsites.
  • The park advises against bringing any wheeled devices, including strollers, carts, or coolers.

Hiking and Recreation

Trails: The park features several notable trails. The most famous is the Overlook Trail, which leads to McWay Falls, an 80-foot waterfall that flows year-round and is one of the few tidefalls (waterfalls that fall directly into the ocean) in California.

Day Use: The park is better known for day-use activities rather than camping, with opportunities for hiking, whale watching, wildlife and bird watching, and photography.


  • The terrain is not suitable for those with limited mobility.
  • Day use areas offer more accessibility features than the campgrounds.

Special Considerations

  • Cellular reception is often limited or nonexistent within the park, so visitors should plan accordingly.
  • Be prepared for the natural elements, including the possibility of poison oak along trails.
  • Always check the state park's website for the latest information on trail conditions, park alerts, and natural events like landslides or wildfires which may affect accessibility.

Park Regulations

  • All natural and cultural features are protected by law and must not be disturbed.
  • Dogs are allowed in the park but must be on a leash at all times and are not allowed on trails or the environmental campsites.
  • Alcohol is not allowed outside of designated campsites or picnic areas.

Visiting Hours: The park has specific hours for day use, usually from sunrise to sunset. Check the current hours before planning a visit as they can change seasonally or due to special circumstances.

This state park provides a unique opportunity for those looking for a rugged coastal camping experience. It's important for campers and day visitors alike to always respect the natural environment, practice Leave No Trace principles, and enjoy the serene beauty of Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park responsibly.

Map of Campgrounds in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
Campgrounds in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
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