Plan a Trip

IMPORTANT ROAD CLOSURE, FIRE CLOSURE, FIRE RESTRICTIONS, and CAMPING INFORMATION (updated October 2017)

ROAD CLOSURES: Replacement of the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge just south of Big Sur Station is complete. Highway One is open from Carmel to Gorda. However, due to the Mud Creek slide, the road is closed from just south of Gorda from the north and just north of Ragged Point from the south ... making access to the Silver Peak Wilderness difficult. The Big Sur Information facebook page, updated by the Big Sur Chamber of Commerce, is a reliable source for up-to-the-minute road conditions in the Big Sur area. 

FIRE CLOSURE: As a result of the 2016 Soberanes Fire, much of the Ventana Wilderness remains CLOSED. This includes backcountry camps like Sykes, Terrace Creek, Barlow Flat, Pat Spring, Carmel River, Pico Blanco Public Camp, and many others. Unauthorized entry is punishable by a fine up to $5,000 and imprisonment up to six months.

Please review these links for details, and if you have questions, call the Monterey Ranger District of Los Padres National Forest at (831) 385-5434 before visiting the Ventana Wilderness.

05-07-51-16-22_Order_and_Memo.pdf

Soberanes Fire Closure Order 05-07-51-16-22 Map

Areas that are currently OPEN include the Cone Peak Trail Network, the Arroyo Seco area, The Indians, and the Silver Peak Wilderness

FIRE RESTRICTIONS: Effective June 14, 2017, Fire Restrictions are in place. Campfires are prohibited in the backcountry. Stoves are permitted with a valid permit which can be obtained hereCampfires are NEVER permitted along roadways or at unauthorized camping sites in Big Sur.  Bottom line, do not camp illegally and do not have a campfire unless you are 100% sure it is legal.  

LEAVE NO TRACE: With visitation to the Monterey Ranger District of Los Padres National Forest now concentrated in far fewer trails and camps, it is up to all of us to tread lightly on the land. Now more than ever, it is critical that all visitors practice Leave No Trace principles. 

CAMPING is NEVER permitted along Highway 1 and Nacimiento-Fergusson Road in Big Sur. Plan your trips well in advance to secure reservations at State Park and National Forest campgrounds. There is no reservation system for backcountry camps. Only use established camps. Never make new campsites.   

STATE PARKS: Many State Park trails in the Big Sur area are also CLOSED. Call the State Park that you wish to explore to determine if trails are open. A handy list of State Park phone numbers can be found at the Big Sur Chamber of Commerce Camping Guide.

Current conditions for all Big Sur area State Parks. 

Weather

weatherYou'll find here a number of links to some pretty informative internet weather sites relevant to the northern Santa Lucia backcounty traveler. They should be helpful in determining what the weather's going to do while you're out there. But regardless of what these folks say, it's always smart to prepare for the worst.

leave no trace signWe need everybody to commit to the Leave No Trace principles. This is an example of what happens otherwise.

 

The Big Sur backcountry is rugged and untamed. It is also quite fragile and easily impacted by the actions of man. California’s population has doubled since the Wilderness Act of 1964 was signed into law. This growing population and the global popularity of Big Sur as a destination for outdoor recreation exert tremendous pressure on our public lands. The US Forest Service is the agency responsible for recreation management in the region. They are woefully underfunded and understaffed.

Resources for the Ventana Traveler

 

For those new to the region, heading out into the backcountry without consulting a trail guide is at best adventurous and venturing forth without at least a map is courting disaster. Thankfully, maps and books specific to exploration of the Big Sur backcountry are readily available. The publications and web resources listed below, when used in conjunction with the VWA's online Trails Conditions pages, should help in the planning of a wilderness visit.

sykes map and brochurepdfClick to download a Sykes map and brochure (5 MB). Prints best on legal size (8.5 x 14) paper.

You may have heard stories about a fantastical place in the Ventana Wilderness with redwoods, a clear-running mountain stream and magical natural hot springs. That’s all true. But another truth is that human visitation at Sykes has a profound impact on this special place. We need your help to keep Sykes from being “loved to death.” Everyone who hikes to Sykes needs to commit strongly to Leave No Trace ethics to help protect this fragile place.

With over 300 miles of trails and dozens of camps in the Big Sur backcountry, there is ample opportunity for recreation and solitude. Since we are so often asked for trip suggestions, we offer these five locales as a mere sampling of what the Ventana region has to offer.