If there's one region I've been wanting to explore more of in California, Big Sur has always been one of them! And this past weekend I finally got to familiarize myself more with this part of the amazing California coast while camping two nights out at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park with a super fun and adventurous group of friends.
Late Friday afternoon, we set out south for our destination. Once we hit Highway 1, the drive was absolutely gorgeous. With the green mountain ranges on one our left and the turquoise Pacific on our right...the evening fog rolling up the coast...and the sun setting across the horizon, I couldn't help but roll down the windows to let that crisp, fresh air in and just let myself be completely wooowed by this stunning view. Every few minutes I was tempted to ask Clay to pull over. (We did twice.) It was seriously so. refreshing. I totally recommend just driving along Highway 1 whether it's on your way traveling between Northern/Southern CA or if you have family or friends visiting. Even for a day trip, Big Sur is totally worth visiting since it's filled with so many state parks and natural reserves.
Here are the places we got to see all in one day:
1. McWay Falls at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
After breakfast, we drove out of the park gates to see our first waterfall of the day, McWay Falls. This one was located just 20 minutes south along Highway 1, where you could park and walk 5 minutes to get to the falls overlook. I had seen it once before, but this time I managed to get some photos of this 80-foot waterfall pouring out onto the beach and into the ocean.
2. Pfeiffer Falls at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park
After returning to the campsite to pack some sandwiches, we then set out for Pfeiffer Falls. On the way, we crossed the Big Sur River at the Big Sur River Gorge. There were kids playing in the shallow waters and even some people who brought chairs to set up in the water by the bank to enjoy a good read as their feet rested in the cool river. We continued to walk past an amphitheater and the Big Sur Lodge to get to the trail head. After hiking a 1.5 mile trail decked with three-leaved clovers on the side, seeing a blue jay and a humming bird, we got to the 60-feet fall. On the way back, we stopped by Valley View Overlook, a sunny spot (bench provided) that gives a view of the Big Sur Valley landscape.
3. Pfeiffer Beach
Later that afternoon, we changed into our sandals and hit the beach which was outside the park gates again, but this time only about a 10 minute drive south. (Note: You do need to pay $10 for parking once you drive 2 miles down from the entrance to the bottom where the beach is.) Although extremely windy and cold for me, this beach was pretty unique. It had a fresh water stream flowing into the ocean, a ginormous rock that some brave souls from our group climbed atop of, stretches of purple sand, and the (insta)famous Key Hole Rock that definitely requires something more than an iPhone camera to capture. After a day of doing as many Pfeiffer-related activities as we could, we finished our last night with some hot chili, s'mores, and lots of stories around a campfire!
Note for the future: Gates remain open even after sun down. Fire wood purchasable at site. Showers available with quarters. Must reserve campsite right next to Big Sur River if I ever get to return again.
Just capturing as I go.