Best Camping in California || Limekiln SP, Big Sur
(and hear the story of how Megan impressed Matt on their first camping trip together)
Big sur is one of my favorite places to camp in California. So much so that we’ll actually be kicking off our first weekend of full-time #vanlife in Big Sur with some friends. As I’m in the final stages of planning for the road – I though I’d share a little “getting to know you” story about Matt and my first camping trip and a few reasons why you should camp in Big Sur asap.
The central coast got a little beat up by the storms last winter (2016/2017) leaving some campsites closed until further notice (Pfeiffer) and the main road from the north (CA Hwy 1 around Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge) closed due to some structural damage to the bridge (expected to re-open late 2017).
The upside: We basically had the place to ourselves camping here in February (amazing). When coming from the north, Big Sur is currently only accessible by Nacimiento Fergusson Road. This makes the trek to get there a little longer but well worth the drive (and seemed to be deterring others from going). Nacimiento Fergusson Road is a fire service road where you can camp along the side of the road for free. (Pro tip: you can camp for free at many USFS and BLM land. Check out this app for free campsites near you.) This is actually something I would like to try next time I come back to Big Sur and maybe even going as far to camp up on Plaskett Ridge which is known for it’s epic views of the pacific coast.
I LOVE camping – and part of that is loving the outdoor experience of roughing it in the woods. But I have spent years sleeping on the ground while watching my friends set up elaborate cuddle palaces in their tents with air mattresses (and even comforters). This was finally going to be my turn. And yes, I know, it wasn’t my finest moment showing off my outdoor grit but sometimes you just want to treat yourself. I’d show Matt how tough I could be outside some other time…
Enter here the second forgotten item… the little battery operated pump that inflated the Coleman camp mattress. I was ruining my own cuddle plan!
So while Matt was kicking himself for forgetting something (which apparently ‘he never does’)… I was kicking myself for not bringing the usual camp pads in addition to the fancy air mattress. The fancy air mattress is impossible to blow up without the bump.
I mentioned earlier that Matt likes the struggle… he was convinced that he’d be able to blow up this mattress on his own. He didn’t need no stinkin’ pump. He has lungs! He bikes everywhere, for goodness’ sake!
Cue my favorite moment of the weekend: walking over to peak into the tent to see Matt laying on the cold, hard ground underneath the mattress, his oxygen deprived red face sticking out the bottom corner, awkwardly bent so he could continue to blow up the air mattress from inside the tent (with no extra room around the mattress and not being able to lay on top of the mattress as he blew it up). My hero. These are also the moments where I wish I was the photographer rather than Matt…Megan sign up for more photo classes ASAP!
So it’s now Friday night past midnight… our weekend hasn’t really even begun yet and was already being saved by RUMPL blankets & Matt’s lungs. Matt got his struggle and I got my cuddle.
We spent the rest of our weekend enjoying morning coffee on the beach, hiking around the Limekiln trails, exploring the Big Sur coastline, getting some great photos and cooking some epic cast iron meals around the campfire. It was a perfect California weekend. As we spent Saturday evening sitting on Sand Dollar Beach watching a group play frisbee, a few surfers catch their last waves of the day and the warm sun set across the ocean – I remember thinking how lucky we are to live in such an incredible state with places like this within such close reach.
What we did in Big Sur, California:
- Coffee on the beach connected to Limekiln campground
- Hiked to the Limekilns, waterfalls and trails also connected to the campground
- Watched the sunset on Sand Dollar Beach
- Drank wine & grilled up delicious meals on the campfire
- Did some nighttime photography out by the ocean
- Explored the Hwy 1 coast before taking Nacimiento Fergusson Road back home for a slow journey of stopping and snapping lots of photos along the way.
- Completed the road trip tradition of stopping at In-n-Out on our drive home (obvi).
A few notes on Limekiln SP Campground:
- It’s amazing. Go here, you’ll thank me later.
- Reservations can be made at www.reservecalifornia.com
- Open: All year (peak season May – Sept)
- Price: $35/night
- Booking Window: 7 months in advance (or up to 2 days ahead of arrival online). New dates are released in blocks, 1 Month at a time. For example, if today is May 17th, the next onsale date is June 1 and will release all of December for reservations.
- There are 27 campsites. Max # of people per site: 8. No maximum night stay.
- Separated into two areas: ocean & redwoods. The ocean side lies right under the Hwy 1 overpass bridge and is coveted by many surfers with views of the beach. We stayed tucked under the canopy of the redwoods and along the Limekiln creek. Which happened to be more like a RAGING river this last Feb due the rains that were bringing CA out of the drought (thank goodness!). Some sites are better than others as far as being in close proximity to others so check out the site map when you’re booking.
- My favorite sites are: Redwoods 29, 26, 23, Ocean 1,2,3 (first come only).