When Is the Best Time
If visiting for hiking start early morning to beat the midday heat during summer. We even spotted a gray fox close to the Lodge although they are nocturnal. Foxes, skunks, and raccoons can be seen during the night. The Pfeiffer Falls are very popular either hike to them in the morning or late afternoon. They were not accessible in 2017 closed due to the powerful storms that flooded the Big Sur Coast with nearly 100 inches / 2540 mm of rain and remain closed. Opening was planned by February 2019 but it looks like they won't be open before mid-June 2019. Check closure
Nearby along the Highwy One are the famous McWay Falls which can be already seen from the road
It’s a moderate cool coastal climate with moist air. The average temperature is between 50 to 65°F year-round. Most of the precipitation occurs from October to April with up to 50 inches/ 1270 mm. Fog happens between May and October usually from the evening until late morning. If it’s hot in the backcountry the fog might stay until the afternoon. It provides moisture for the redwoods along the coast in the dry summer months.
If you like camping under the amazing redwood trees book the tent or RV site in advance at least 3 months before for the summer holidays even 6 months. Within the park are several campgrounds offering 189 tent and RV sites in total for $ 35-50 each night which includes the State Park fee of 10 $ (2019). From mid-June until September are two group campsites available which can accommodate up to 35 people. Reservations can be made six months in advance on the first day of the month. The campground is extremely popular even in the winter due to the mild climate. Click here for campground reservation
Best Accommodations at Big Sur
- There are cozy little cabins and a campground as well just close to the Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground. The Riverside Campground and Cabins offers well equipped cottages with a kitchenette and bathroom and some share the facilities with the campground. It's beautiful located under redwood trees and an excellent alternative if the Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground is already fully booked,
- Our luxury top tip is the Ventana Big Sur - An Alila Resort situated in a breathtaking scenery. The food at the on-site restaurant is incredible. You can really forget about everything except your time. Don't come here in a rush. You will love this cozy place and regret it if you stay here just for one night.
- Excellent located at the park entrance is the Big Sur Lodge. The rooms are heated up with a cozy fireplace. The on-site restaurant offers tasty meals. Start your hike directly from the lodge and afterwards enjoy the outdoor pool during your stay.
Where and Tips
The park is called after the first European settlers Michael and Barbara Pfeiffer who built a house in 1869. The biggest redwood in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is the Colonial Tree 31 feet circumference. The redwoods inside the park are 800 up to 1200 years old. These redwoods are close to the Big Sur Lodge in the Proboscis Grove.
These awe-inspiring trees can withstand storm, flood, fires, drought and even termites due to their red pigment, a chemical component called tannin. Although their roots grow only 6-10 feet / 1,80 – 3 meters deep they are resistant to storm. The reason for it the roots are almost as wide as the tree is tall. Due to their thick protective bark of up to 12 inches / 30 cm, they usually survive in a big forest fire. Million years ago the coast redwoods were in Asia, Europe, and Greenland but due to substantially weather changes 4 % remain on a 30-miles wide coastal strip only. Fog can add up to 10 inches of rain each summer which is sufficient for the redwoods, but the coastal fog has decreased by 30 %. The coast redwood; Sequoia sempervirens are endemic to the US; they grow only along the coast from Central California to Southern Oregon.
There are several hiking trails and short walks. Unfortunately, the Gorge is not any longer accessible due to huge damage and rock fall from the powerful storm with almost 100 inches of rainfall in 2016. Nevertheless, walk until it is forbidden to enter and swim in the rock pools in summer. The temps are in the low 60’s Fahrenheit / 15°C
The longest hiking trail is the circular Buzzard’s Roost; a rugged 2 hours hike 5 miles / 8 km long.
We combined the Valley View Hike together with the Pfeiffer Falls. The trail is around 2.2 miles / 3 km long. It’s a gentle descent through old-grown redwoods until the vegetation changes into oak woodlands and grass. The Pfeiffer Falls are 60 foot / 18 meters high.
Poison oak is found throughout the park often a groundcover. The oily substance on the leaves, stems, and roots is irritating to the skin which gets itchy for days. I got in contact with them and a cortisone cream was helpful.
A high number of Steller’s Jays are around the campground used to humans and waiting to grab food.