A Guide to California's Big Sur

Big Sur: California State Parks System

The California State Parks in general

The California State Parks are managed by the California Department of Parks and Recreation. The State Parks System was established in 1926, but preservation efforts began much earlier. There are more than 270 State Parks units covering nearly 1.4 million acres, or about 1.4% of California's total land and water surface. The system has over 280 miles of coastline; 625 miles of lake and river frontage; more than 15,000 campsites and 11,000 picnic sites; and 3,000 miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails.

Some facilities are free; at others, day-use fees for private vehicle parking range from $2 to $14, and there may be additional fees for services such as boat launching and tours. Senior discounts are available. State Parks passes are available, including annual passes, Golden Bear passes for seniors with limited incomes, and disabled and veteran passes. See Reservations and Fees: Camping, Tours, and Day Use.

California State Parks in the Big Sur Region

For information about camping in the Big Sur region, see Camping - Campgrounds in Big Sur.

There are ten state park properties with visitor services in the Big Sur region and several more just outside it.

There are two additional state park properties without visitor services in the Big Sur region. These are "reserves", designed to preserve and protect resources. These properties are not described in this Web site and, as far as I know, their locations are not marked along Highway 1.

There is no "Big Sur National Park", nor is there any national park under any name in the Big Sur region. Those looking for such a park are probably thinking of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. (If you really are looking for a national park, try this search service on the National Park Service Web site.)

Big Sur Region State Parks Vehicle Day Use Fees

Four state parks in the northern and central Big Sur region allow visitor vehicle access with a single vehicle day use fee payment on the same day. Your vehicle day use fee receipt from Point Lobos State Reserve, Andrew Molera State Park, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, or Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is good at all four parks on the same day.

Dogs in the Big Sur parklands

The State Parks Web site includes some Web pages on the subject of dogs and other pets in the Big Sur area state parks and national forest lands:

Camping in Big Sur's State Parks

Several of the state parks in the Big Sur region offer camping. Campgrounds in these parks are very popular, and reservations for camping there often close soon after they become available. Therefore, making camping reservations, and making them early, is strongly recommended.

Those looking for campgrounds in the Big Sur region should understand that many of them are not in the State Parks. Some campgrounds in the region are privately owned and others are on federal lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service.

For information about camping in the Big Sur region, see Camping - Campgrounds in Big Sur.

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January 2008
Highway 1 at Point Lobos State Reserve Highway 1 at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park Highway 1 at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park Highway 1 at Limekiln State Park

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