Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
Named after legendary Big Sur pioneer Julia Pfeiffer Burns, for whom the McWay Waterfall was a favorite sight, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is a favorite of many hikers. Sunset Magazine named it one of "four best spots to pitch a tent on the coast." With an 80-foot waterfall, scuba diving, redwood groves and on-land spots perfectly placed for whale watching, it's no surprise that so many have raved about Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.
Don't confuse this park with Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, which is twelve miles north.
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Explore all of the California State Parks in Monterey County with a three-day Monterey State Parks pass, exclusively available on SeeMonterey.com! The three-day State Parks pass gives visitors three days of in-and-out privileges at every California State Park in Monterey County, including Point Lobos, Pfeiffer Big Sur, Andrew Molera State Park and Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. Purchase the pass on its own, or combine it with a hotel stay and other outdoor activities!
McWay Falls is easily none of the most unique and majestic sights along California’s coastline. The 80-foot waterfall is located in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and runs year-round. This rare fresh waterfall tumbles down a steep granite cliff into a picturesque cove and directly into the Pacific Ocean. Visitors can view the scenic fall from a 0.5 mile “Overlook Trail” easily accessible from the entrance gate of Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park of off Highway One.
The natural wonder of Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park makes it an extremely popular spot for hiking. Whale watchers stand at coastal overlook points in December, January, March and April to watch gray whales migrate; a lucky few have seen gray whales come into the mouth of the cove. The Julia Pfeiffer Burns Underwater Area is part of the park and an exceptional scuba diving site.
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park offers two hike-in, environmental tent campsites. These sites, in a cypress grove with spectacular views of the Big Sur coastline, offer picnic areas, storage cabinets and restrooms. Fires are not allowed at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park; only propane stoves and lanterns are allowed. Dogs are not allowed at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. Camp sites can be reserved online. When you arrive, register and pay fees at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, then head to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.
Scuba diving in the Julia Pfeiffer Burns Underwater Area is allowed only with a special-use permit. Divers must bring their dive card and practice the buddy system. Call the Big Sur Station at 831-667-2315 for more information.
The most popular trails at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park are Ewoldsen Trail, which goes across streams and through stands of redwood trees, and the Waterfall Trail. A less-known trail is the Partington Canyon Trail, located two miles north of the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park entrance on Highway One. It is generally used by divers for beach access, as it runs down to the shore and through a rock tunnel.
Refer to our page on the Top Ten Day Hikes in Monterey County for a detailed description of the Waterfall Trail hike at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. See the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park online trail map at the California State Parks website for more information.
Map and Directions
Follow Route 1 south from Carmel for 37 miles to reach the park.
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