Things to DoParksJulia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Due to severe storm damage, Julia Pfeiffer Burns will be closed through May 31, 2019.  Please click here for updates.

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.

McWay Falls

McWay Falls is easily one 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.

Day Use

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.

Overnight Camping

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

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.

Hiking

The most popular trail at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is Waterfall Overlook Trail, a wheelchair accessible trail accessed from the south parking lot or the stairs near the entrance kiosk. It ends at an observation deck with a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean. 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.

See the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park online trail map at the California State Parks website for more information. There is no beach access at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State park. Cliff areas beyond the fenced boundaries are strictly off limits for safety concerns.

Map and Directions

Follow Route 1 south from Carmel for 37 miles to reach the park.


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