Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Situated some 30 odd miles south of Carmel within the boundaries of the gorgeous Big Sur coastline, the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is fondly regarded as one of the most tranquil natural areas within the whole of California . Ancient giant redwoods, cobalt blue coves and the 80 foot McWay Falls are all inevitable highlights and it's easy to see why this area is so highly regarded by artists and authors looking for solace and inspiration. There's no road in the whole of Southwest USA that compares to Highway One and if you get the chance even just to pass through you'll be in for one glorious treat after the next.

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  • California coastline

    Big Sur Views Lone cypress trees perched upon a jagged outcrop, basking sea lions lolling about in the midday sun or towering redwood forests that have been around for well-over 2000 years - these are just some of the views that you'll encounter along the Big Sur coastline. Stretching from the Carmel River in the north to San Caporforo Creek, Big Sur is blessed with miles of hiking trails as well as plenty of untouched sandy beaches and if you have the time to explore then you won't regret it for an instant.

  • California Coast Beaches

    McWay Waterfalls If you've never experienced a 'tide fall' before then you are definitely in for a treat. Watch in awe as the McWay Falls jettison water falls from McWay Creek some 80 feet directly onto the beach. The best way to view the falls is from the trail which leads you to an overlooking vantage point. This is a thoroughly unique and quite remarkable sight and although it is tricky to get down to the beach, viewing the falls from above is still an exceptional experience.

  • Giant Sequoias

    Buzzard's Roost Trail Another popular local trail is just under 5 miles and, although it does encounter a challenging last push, the pine-covered basin views from the top are magnificent. The route itself takes you through a whole series of ancient redwood groves before turning into a sensuous pine forest until finally you reach the rocky 'Buzzard's Roost' outcrop that gives the trail it's distinctly apt title. As far as trails go this one isn't as tough as you may first perceive and with adequate shade and correct provisions you should be able to achieve success without too much huffing and puffing.

  • Monterey

    Monterey Anyone who's acquainted with the works of John Steinbeck will be endowed with the spirit of Monterey with books such as Sweet Thursday and Cannery Row providing a thoroughly absorbing insight into the characters frequenting the area. These days Monterey holds a bountiful blend of art, culture and marine heritage with Fisherman's Wharf providing the best seafood stalls pretty much anywhere in California . Rainy days are infrequent however, if you do find yourself in need of shelter then the Monterey Aquarium presents an incredible experience, although it may put you off your next bowl of clam chowder.

When to go
Temperature chart - Big Sur

From whale watching in the winter to the food, drink and arts festivals of the summer - there's never a bad time to visit Big Sur. Although the winter is pretty much recognised as the rainy season, you will find plenty of blue sky days with little or no fog which makes it not only a great time to avoid the crowds but an excellent experience for amateur astronomers. Moving into the spring sees the advent of wildflowers as temperatures increase and there's a strong chance of seeing whale calves as well as sea otter pups. Thanks to the forest shade, hiking during the summer months isn't as strenuous as it might be and although this stretch of Southwest USA coastline does have a tendency for thick fog, it simply adds to the mystical atmosphere. In general the climate is pretty mild all year round and from leaf chasers in the autumn to whale watchers in the winter, you will find a few crowds however, with so many beautiful sights on display it's only right to share.

Insider Tip: Julia Pfeiffer Underwater Area
Julia Pfeiffer Underwater Area

This underwater park is one of the best kept secrets in California State Parks, often over shadowed by the towering Redwoods and the tumbling waterfalls this place is a haven for any diving enthusiast. The park runs approximately 2.5 miles along the Big Sur coast, between Partington Point and McWay Creek and along the rocky shoreline is where you will gain access to the incredible marine life that frequents the area. To explore this incredible Underwater Area you will need to get yourself a special-use permit.

Tours that visit Julia Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park


    9 days | USA West | Hotels

    Jun-Sep from


    From the sparkling Lake Tahoe to Yosemite's majestic waterfalls, and from Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park to the coastal city of Monterey - the numerous hikes and scenic views on this trip will take your breath away!


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