Kirk Creek Campground Los Padres National Forest Coastal Camping Big Sur California

Kirk Creek Campground might as well be called Amazing Ocean Views Campground. This national forest campground is perched atop ocean bluffs that are over 100-foot tall and overlook miles and miles of Pacific Ocean along the beautiful Big Sur coastline. Kirk Creek Campground is a stunning place to put up a tent or park an RV and is sure to be a treat for anyone able to stay here on a trip through Big Sur.

Kirk Creek Campground just might be the most beautiful basecamp for a visit to Big Sur. The campground is just five miles north of Sand Dollar Beach, probably the area’s longest sandy beach, and seventeen mile south of Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, home of the beloved McWay Falls. Kirk Creek Campground is an attraction of its own though, with gorgeous ocean views that will make it hard to leave your campsite.

Kirk Creek Campground has 33 standard non-powered sites for tents and RVs (some sites won’t be able to fit long campers). Five smaller hike-in or bike-in sites on the lower side of the campground accommodate those who don’t have a vehicle to park. The campsites are spread out over two loops stretched across a slope above a coastal bluff. The pitch of the terrain makes it possible to enjoy big views throughout the campground. There seem to be ocean views from practically every campsite, but if you are able to book one of the sites along the bluff (9, 11, 15, 17, 19, 21, or 22), you’ll really see the Pacific.

Kirk Creek Campground
A campsite on the bluff

Campsites may be reserved in advance on recreation.gov or by calling (877) 444-6777. Reservations are especially necessary on summer weekends when this desirable campground is sure to be at capacity. There is a 14-day limit on all of the sites. The 33 standard sites are appropriate for up to 8 people and up to two vehicles. A $25 fee for each campsite covers the first vehicle. A second vehicle can be added for an additional $10. Each site comes with a picnic table, fire ring, and barbecue grill. The campground has vault toilets. Kirk Creek Campground does not have potable water, so be sure to bring your own water for drinking and cooking. (Note that descriptions posted elsewhere of Kirk Creek not taking reservations and offering water and flush toilets are out of date and incorrect.) The five hike-in or bike-in sites are $5 per person.

Kirk Creek Campground
Ocean views from Kirk Creek Campground

Generators are allowed during the day, but not during quiet hours (10 p.m. to 6 a.m.). Dogs are allowed, but must be kept on leashes in the campground. Only people that are staying at campsites are permitted in the campground. There is no day use parking at all, so you need to be staying at one of the campsites to enjoy Kirk Creek Campground.

A trail starting from Kirk Creek Campground heads down to the rocky waterfront below the bluff. Since campers are the only ones that can really access the trail, you should find the beach below to be largely unoccupied. A dirt track starting from the south side of the campground, near site 11, follows the edge of the bluff into a canyon carved by Kirk Creek. Drop into the canyon and cross the creek itself before reaching to the ocean, where you’ll find a small beach of course sand and a lovely jumble of rocks.

Kirk Creek Campground
The rocky beach at the bottom of Kirk Creek

Inland from Kirk Creek Campground lie the beautiful Santa Lucia Mountains in the Ventana Wilderness. With views from verdant mountains to the striking blue ocean, Kirk Creek Campground really has it all. The campground has very little shade through, so you may wish to find other places to be during the hot part of the day. Be sure to bring your camp chairs and relax at Kirk Creek Campground, where nearly every site has a gin-and-tonic-worthy perspective north up the coast of Big Sur.

If you’re exploring more of the area, keep in mind that when you pay to camp at Kirk Creek Campground, you can access nearby beaches in Los Padres National Forest without paying additional day use fees. There is no need to pay the usual $10 entrance fee for Sand Dollar Beach or Pfeiffer Beach if you have a camping permit (all prices as of July, 2014).

To get to the campground: From the south, drive up Highway One, 20.5 miles north of Ragged Point Inn (or 43.5 miles north of Cambria) to the campground entrance. From the north, drive 17 miles south from Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park (home of McWay Falls) to Kirk Creek Campground, which is on the west side of the road.

Campground address: 64955 California 1, Big Sur, CA 93920
Campground coordinates: 35.989969, -121.495202 (35° 59′ 23.88″N 121° 29′ 42.72″W)

Use the map below to view the campground and get directions:

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Photos

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These photos were taken in May of 2014. Click to enlarge.
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5 Comments on Kirk Creek Campground in Los Padres National Forest (Big Sur)

  1. charlie says:

    are dogs allowed in Kirk Creek?

  2. Jeremie says:

    Are there still hike-in bike-in site at this campground? There is no mention of such facilities on their website.

  3. Wilmy Berghuis says:

    We love to stay 1 night 3-10/4-10 this year at your place with a small camper 19 feet, 2 persons. Please, offer a possibility for us before we go home to Holland.

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