Big Sur, California – RV Road Trip: Six States in Three Weeks Series

Our first destination in California to explore was the Big Sur area.  What better way is there to start off exploring through California than on the coast?!  This was my first time exploring this state, so in my mind’s eye, California is all beaches, blonde hair and tan lines.  I could not be more wrong.  California is so diverse and so beautiful.

We left San Jose in the morning and headed down the curvy and Big Surscenic Highway 1 to our campground, Kirk Creek Campground.  When planning for this trip, I knew if we were staying on the coast, I was going to STAY on the coast.  Kirk Creek Campground is practically falling into the Pacific Ocean.  It was perfect.

This was our shortest stay during our three week road trip for only two nights because Kirk Creek is dry camping. View from Kirk Creek Campground If our fresh water tanks and holding tanks were bigger, then I would have enjoyed a longer stay.  Kirk Creek is located on the west side on Highway 1 perched on a hundred foot bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  The views of the ocean and the jagged California coast are indescribable.  Kirk Creek is truly a unique camping experience and a must stay location.  A bonus for Kirk Creek is whale watching.  My husband, aka Eagle Eyes, can spot wild life anywhere.  We were able to watch from the coast a pod of gray whales migrating north.  Amazing!

My only complaint is the awful site we chose.  It was deeply rutted due to rain run off and our RV was critically un-level.  There was no amount of wood or props we could have used to fix it.  So, word to the wise, do not choose site 11.  Be sure to fill your fresh water and propane tanks and dump your holding tanks before you pull into your site.  Water and sewer dump is not available.

During our stay on the California coast, one of the highlights was seeing the McWay Falls.  I was reading a Sunset Magazine a few years back and came across a picture of the McWay Falls located in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State ParkMcWay Falls California coastI added it to my bucket list and a few years later here we are.  I am literally running out of descriptive adjectives to express the beauty of the places we have traveled.  McWay Falls is one of those places and I challenge you to take only one photo of this spectacular waterfall.  This narrow waterfall tumbles 80 feet over a cliff face onto a pristine, inaccessible beach.  McWay Falls are tide falls, meaning depending on the tide, the waterfall can either empty into the Pacific Ocean or onto the beach.   I can see why Lathrop Brown, a former Congressman from New York, and his wife, Helen Hooper Brown purchased the McWay’s Saddle Rock Ranch from Christopher McWay in the 1920s.  McWay had originally homesteaded the canyon in the 1870s hence named the McWay Falls.  When Helen Hooper Brown died, she gave the land over to California in honor of her friend, Julia Pfeiffer Burns.  Burns was a pioneer woman of the Big Sur area and had become great friends with Helen Hooper Brown.  What a way to honor a friendship by donating this beautiful area in Burns’ name.  Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is also home to a redwood grove full of trees over a thousand years old. (Reference:

We did a lot of relaxing and enjoying our views from Kirk Creek Campground, View North of Sand Dollar Beachbut we are in California, we have to explore the beaches, right?!  Our first beach to check out was the largest beach in the central California coast called Sand Dollar BeachSun StarfishWe spent a lot of time here walking up and down the shore beachcombing and looking for that elusive sand dollar.  I always smile thinking back on Sand Dollar Beach because the sand dollar we did finally find was about the size of a dime! LOL.  We were also on the hunt for jade.  My oldest son is an avid rock collector and we were searching the cliff walls for that special find.  Far on the north end of the beach are shallow caves to explore and tide pools.  This was my first time seeing a sun starfish at the beach.

From our campground, we also followed a short hike down to the shore.  It was very rocky here and not too sandy.  It was a great place to watch the waves crash against the rocks.

Thank you so much for reading and please feel free to share across your social networks.  Did you miss the first post in my Six States in Three Weeks Series?  Catch up here, read Getting to California and The RV Road Trip that Changed My Life.  Sign up with your email to follow my blog and never miss a post.  Next week I will share about Hearst Castle and the sea lions.  Happy Travels.

Tips for the Road:

  1. Book Kirk Creek Campground early and stay away from site 11.  Site 9 is a good one.
  2. Fill your fresh water tank and propane.  Be sure to empty your holding tanks and stock up on firewood.
  3. Plan for extra time driving on the winding Highway 1 with your RV and I would be sure to arrive during daylight hours.
  4. Check in is at 3pm and check out is 2pm.
  5. Check for local fire restrictions.
  6. Pack your food in.  Gas stations and grocery stores are few and far between.
  7. Be aware of the tides for Sand Dollar beach.  Great beachcombing at low tide especially.
  8. Parking for McWay Falls is free if you can snag a spot on the shoulder.  Otherwise, park at the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park for a small fee.

A=McWay Falls, California | B=Kirk Creek Campground, California | C=Sand Dollar Beach, California

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  1. I enjoyed reading your trip report. I just made reservations for site #10, do you know if this is a good site.

    • Thank you!! If memory serves me well, site 10 is better than 11, the one we chose. Just remember to bring the right props to help level your RV. It is a tight campground. Check out my Google Earth image below noting the sites. I always use this app before booking RV parks. It gives me a bird eye’s view and some help for choosing sites. Have FUN!

      Kirk Creek Campground

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