Visiting VW/ Big Sur

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Joined: Sat Aug 30, 2008 11:55 am

Re: Visiting VW/ Big Sur

Post by ted »

THe forest service has a couple of great car camping sites way down towards the south end of Monterey County, one is right on a bluff overlooking the ocean. Ventana wilderness is closed, but the Silver Peak, which is down that way, is open and has some great hikes and views.

Re: Visiting VW/ Big Sur

Post by bigsurbob »

To find out about camping at Julia Pfeiffer Burns, the one and only way is through Reserve America (1800-444-7275). Molera is on a strictly first come, first served basis. The way to find out about that is by going to that park NOT to the Ranger Station or Pfeiffer Big Sur, since it's closed.

Oh, and it sounds like you guys parked at different spots. Carl, the parking lot, and that other dude, the road...which is right at 1-2 minutes from the sites.
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Re: Visiting VW/ Big Sur

Post by mikesplain »

The burn areas make for an interesting drive, actually;
watch the weather & check road conditions beforehand-
heavy rain could cause slides & closures.
While the entire Ventana Wilderness is closed
(likely until spring 2009),
the Silver Peak Wilderness remains open
& makes for an fine backcountry adventure-
an excellent loop trip might include the Cruikshank, Salmon Creek & Buckeye Trails.
Carl Mounteer
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Joined: Thu Aug 28, 2008 9:51 am

Re: Visiting VW/ Big Sur

Post by Carl Mounteer »

Well, I don't know about Adam's experience, but my best recollection is that, with a fully loaded pack on, it took me about 20 minutes to hike from the parking lot to the campground.

I distinctly remember this time because I had to hike out on an empty stomach, two racoons having consumed my entire breakfast food supply the night before. The racoon locker there is useless. The food was locked in the locker with bungee cords holding the doors shut for extra security and these animals still got everything out of the locker. I remember how difficult it was to hike out, even that very short distance, on an empty stomach and imagining how much worse that would be if I was five miles from the parking lot.

It taught me a lesson and made me a LOT more cautious about keeping food secure in a bear cannister when backpacking in Yosemite.

But another benefit from the experience was that, for my missed breakfast, I discovered for the first time the wonderful burrito bar at the general store in Big Sur Village.
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Re: Visiting VW/ Big Sur

Post by Adam »

Just a note, the two sites at Julia Pfeiffer Burns are not 20 minutes from highway 1. They are only about 1 or 2 minutes from the highway.
Carl Mounteer
Posts: 105
Joined: Thu Aug 28, 2008 9:51 am

Re: Visiting VW/ Big Sur

Post by Carl Mounteer »

There are two places you could go:

Andrew Molera State Park has a campground and a lot of coastal trails to hike. The campground requires about a 0.3 mile hike to access. So you will have to pack your stuff in there. There are picnic tables, wooden lockers (absolutely necessary against racoon predation), and fire rings (a little high). You have to pay to keep your car there at night.

Julia Pfieffer Burns State Park has two campsites on cliffs right above the water that are really nice places and not well known. From the parking lot, it is about a 20 minute hike to the campsites on the west side of Highway 1. I think the hiking trails are closed because they are in or near the burn area in the Los Padres National Forest. All of the latter is closed from Naciemiento-Ferguson Road north and east from Highway 1. (See ... 13-12-mrd/)

However, you should check with the rangers at Pfieffer Big Sur State Park (831-667-2315) as to the availability of these places, particularly the Julia Pfieffer has only two campsites. You can pick up a camping permit for both Andrew Molera and Julia Pfeiffer Burns at the kiosk at Pfieffer Big Sur State Park. Because of all the disruption caused by the fire, I would call the latter before coming down here just to make sure your plans are doable.

These places are pretty civilized by Ventana Wilderness standards

Have fun!
San Fran Man

Visiting VW/ Big Sur

Post by San Fran Man »

Hi, I'm from SF and have never made it south of Monterey. I planned to visit Big Sur last spring, but the big burn foiled my plans.
I'd originally hoped to do some car- or walk-in camping, day hikes, beach snoozing and surf casting, and generally enjoy the panorama from Rte 1. From what I've been reading online, it sounds like it will be a long time before anything east of Rte 1 will be open for exploring. Just wondering if it's worth a long weekend's road trip; or will it just be a pleasant drive made depressing by the site of vast tracts of inaccessible burned slopes, making me wish I'd stayed home and looked at a pretty picture book of better days?
Any thoughts and input on what areas of the coast and mountains from Monterey down to San Simeon are open and worth a visit at this time would be appreciated.
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