Bixby Bridge, Big Sur

Bixby Bridge, Big Sur

Big Sur

The scenery in Big Sur, California cannot be done justice by film or secondhand account. An eclectic populace and cosmic vibe flows through the area and permeates Big Sur hotels, shops and restaurants. A table with a view isn’t hard to come by in Big Sur. Neither is a sense of well-being. Cliffs, rocks, redwoods and effervescent surf create an epic backdrop for recreation, romance and relaxed exploration.

Big Sur Hotels

Big Sur lodging options range from luxury resorts perched above the rugged coastline to rustic cabins. All of Big Sur's accommodations are harmonious with the area, perfect for visitors seeking a retreat from the busy world. They also offer easy access to Big Sur hiking and other outdoor activities. See a complete listing of Big Sur hotels.

Big Sur Campsites

Big Sur campsites range from fully equipped RV sites under the shade of redwoods to rustic hike-in tent sites with spectacular ocean views. For the dedicated hiker, use of the Los Padres National Forest's trail camps allow days of travel on foot without ever having to see civilization. Most of Big Sur's campsites are located within state and federal parks, and most are first come, first served. Camping reservations for Pfeiffer Big Sur and Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Parks can be made through the Reserve America website.

Three privately owned Big Sur campgrounds, Big Sur Campground and Cabins, Fernwood Resort and Riverside Campground and Cabins, are all nestled among the redwoods in the heart of Big Sur. If you want the tent camping experience without the hassle of bringing your own, stay in a Big Sur tent cabin at either Fernwood Resort or Big Sur Campground and Cabins. Contact the properties directly to make Big Sur camping reservations.

Big Sur History

Originally inhabited by the Esselen, Salinan and Ohlone Native Americans, Big Sur was first settled by the Spanish in the 1830s, but developed its first large settlements due to the Gold Rush. The lumber industry thrived in the late 1800s in Big Sur, despite the difficulty of reaching the area; the population of Big Sur was greater at that time than it is today. The three-day, dangerous overland journey to Monterey meant most supplies were brought in and goods shipped out by ocean, rather than by road.

The construction of Highway One in the 1930s transformed Big Sur, making its beauty accessible to all rather than just the most intrepid. Residents fought to protect Big Sur against development, preserving its charms and its remote feel. Get a feel for Big Sur's history by visiting Andrew Molera State Park, home to Big Sur's oldest building, and that famous Big Sur lighthouse, Point Sur Lighthouse.

Artist's Haven

Big Sur has provided inspiration to photographers, painters, writers and musicians. Henry Miller and Jack Kerouac chronicled the area in books, and Ansel Adams and Edward Weston captured Big Sur's rugged beauty on film. Robinson Jeffers described Big Sur in epic verse, which later became the inspiration for the Beach Boys' album Holland.

Today Big Sur remains a favorite place for local and international artists of every stripe. Galleries located along Highway One exhibit stunning visual art, while venues such as the Henry Miller Library and Fernwood Resort host both cutting-edge acts and big names. For more information on the Big Sur arts scene, see our Big Sur Arts and Culture page.

Big Sur Hiking

Much of Big Sur is under the auspices of the state and federal park systems, and hiking trails permeate Big Sur. The Los Padres National Forest, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, Garrapata State Park and Andrew Molera State Park are world-renowned for their stunning scenery, and with good reason. Each park has its own unique atmosphere, and no two hikes are alike.

Big Sur hiking trails range from tranquil walks along a coastal waterfall at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, to miles-long ascents through the redwoods and into the rugged wilderness at the Los Padres National Forest…and everything in between. The sprawling nature of the region makes it possible to hike for hours in solitude. For more information on hiking in Big Sur, see the park links at left. Each page has detailed Big Sur hiking trail information, including descriptions of sample hikes and links to online trail maps.

Big Sur Map

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Lay of the Land

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Lay of the Land



County Map


Click on the links for high-resolution maps of Monterey County communities, suitable for printing: Monterey, Carmel and Carmel Valley, Pacific Grove, Pebble Beach, Salinas, Seaside, Marina, Sand City and Moss Landing.


Fly direct from these five airports:
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
McCarran International Airport (LAS)
Phoenix Skyharbor International Airport (PHX)
San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
San Diego International Airport (SAN)

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