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 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 $35 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(Note that descriptions posted elsewhere of Kirk Creek not taking reservations and offering water and flush toilets are out of date and incorrect.)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 2016).

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:

View Big Sur in a larger map
Or view Central Coast trails and campgrounds in a larger map


Kirk Creek Campground Big SurKirk Creek Campground Big SurKirk Creek Campground Big SurKirk Creek Campground Big SurKirk Creek Campground Big SurKirk Creek Campground Big SurKirk Creek Campground Big SurKirk Creek Campground Big SurKirk Creek Campground Big SurKirk Creek Campground Big SurKirk Creek Campground Big SurKirk Creek Campground Big SurKirk Creek Campground Big SurKirk Creek Campground Big SurKirk Creek Campground Big SurKirk Creek Campground Big SurKirk Creek Campground Big Sur

These photos were taken in May of 2014. Click to enlarge.
Nearby Trails
Limekiln Trail Limekiln Falls Hare Creek hikeHare Creek Trail, Limekiln Trail, and Falls Trail
This 2.65-mile hike in Limekiln State Park explores a trio of trails along lovely streams in redwood-lined canyons, reaching Limekiln Falls and historic lime kilns.
Sand Dollar BeachSand Dollar Beach
This short hike to Big Sur’s longest beach passes two scenic overlooks on the way to the sand for a hike of 0.5 miles (or more) round trip.
Pacific Valley Big Sur hikePacific Valley Bluff Trail
This short out and back hike extends from Highway One to an ocean bluff with fantastic views of the Big Sur Coast.
Jade Cove Big Sur HikeJade Cove and Plaskett Rock Point
This 1.5-mile hike along an ocean bluff visits a prominent peninsula and a small cove.
Salmon Creek Falls Big Sur HikeSalmon Creek Falls
This short hike visits a fine 120-foot waterfall near the start of Salmon Creek Trail.
Buckeye Trail hikeBuckeye Trail
This hike of 6.5 miles or more reaches incredibly ocean vistas and trail camps in the Silver Peak Wilderness. Connect Cruickshank Trail and Buckeye Trail for an excellent shuttle hike of 8.25 miles or more.
Cruickshank Trail hikeCruickshank Trail
This hike into Silver Peak Wilderness starts with bold ocean views and crosses redwood groves to reach Upper Cruickshank Camp at a junction with Buckeye Trail, 5 miles round trip from Highway One.
waterfall hikeMcWay Falls
This 0.6-mile hike looks out on a stunning Big Sur waterfall that pours 80 feet right on to the beach.
Canyon Trail Big SurCanyon Falls
This 0.9-mile hike heads inland up McWay Creek past a picnic area in a redwood grove to a lovely little waterfall.
Partridge Cove Big Sur HikePartington Cove
This 1.5 mile hike visits a cove and a secluded beach along the scenic Big Sur coast. The cove is accessed through a tunnel.
Pfeiffer BeachPfeiffer Beach
This short walk reaches an absolutely stunning beach that’s a classic feature of the Big Sur landscape.
Pfeiffer Falls Valley ViewPfeiffer Falls and Valley View
This 2.4-mile hike is like two hikes in one, reaching a waterfall in a canyon of redwoods and a vista point overlooking the Big Sur River Valley.
Pfeiffer Big Sur Nature Trail LoopNature Trail – River Path Loop
This easy 0.55-mile loop explores woodlands along the Big Sur River and a redwood grove that includes the unique and impressive Proboscis Tree. The loop can be combined with the trail to Pfeiffer Falls and Valley View for a 3-mile trek.
Pfeiffer Big Sur Nature Trail LoopPfeiffer Falls and Valley View
This 2.4-mile hike is like two hikes in one, reaching a waterfall in a canyon of redwoods and a vista point overlooking the Big Sur River Valley.
Andrew Molera SP Loop HikeRidge Trail – Panorama Trail – Bluff Trail Loop
This 8.7-mile loop in Andrew Molera State Park crosses a coastal ridge, bluff, and beach that are packed with amazing Big Sur views.
Big Sur HikeMore Central Coast Hikes
Explore other destinations along the California coast between Ventura and Monterey, including trails in Los Padres National Forest.
Nearby Campgrounds
Plaskett Creek CampgroundPlaskett Creek Campground
This 45-site campground in Los Padres National Forest is positioned across Highway One from Sand Dollar Beach and Plaskett Rock Point on the coast of Big Sur.
Limekiln State Park CampgroundLimekiln State Park Campground
This 29-site Big Sur campground at the bottom of Limekiln Canyon has sites along a creek through a redwood grove and near the ocean, with access to trails up Limekiln Canyon.
Pfieffer Big Sur State Park CampgroundPfieffer Big Sur State Park Campground
This large campground in the heart of Big Sur is spread out through oak and redwood groves along the Big Sur River.
Andrew Molera State Park CampgroundAndrew Molera State Park Trail Camp
This trail camp is easy to reach (just a short walk in) with campsites in a meadow along the Big Sur River near Molera Beach.

Ask a question or share your experience

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

8 Comments on Kirk Creek Campground in Los Padres National Forest (Big Sur)

  1. charlie wrote:

    are dogs allowed in Kirk Creek?

  2. Jeremie wrote:

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

  3. Wilmy Berghuis wrote:

    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.

  4. Gustavo Jauregui wrote:

    May I fish while camping at Kirk Creek campground?

  5. Lisa M Curnett wrote:

    Were going in late August 2019 from Santa Cruz. Are the roads open?

  6. Rey wrote:

    Are dogs allowed on the beach and hiking trails?