Big Sur - Kirk Creek Campground
One of my (Kim) favorite aspects of our adventures is the spontaneity of them and how a very well thought out plan can be turned on its head in a moment. We had planned on spending the weekend after Christmas in Joshua Tree. Because it is so convenient and close to us, we tend to choose it over everything else for our quick overnight weekend trips when we just have that itch to camp and get away from it all. We haven't spent multiple nights out there, so this was the plan - a few nights in our favorite park for some extra hiking time. Checking the forecast on Christmas night, while heading home from the holiday with family, we decided we didn't want to be freezing cold on this trip. One thing led to another and we decided to head north along the coast to Big Sur!
Of course, Big Sur campgrounds are almost all by reservation. And you can't reserve them the night before. We adjusted our packed gear for the possibility of not finding an available campsite and having to hike to a walk-in campsite.
The first campground we checked out was Plaskett Creek Campground. We drove through it and it was very crowded on the east side of the road with some nice tree coverage. Hoping for a quieter, not so crowded, weekend of camping, we continued on to Kirk Creek Campground. This had been our first choice of campgrounds, so we held out hope for an empty site. The benefit of this campground is that it is on the west side of Highway 1, so you don't have the highway between you and the ocean.
There are few trees at Kirk Creek, so its not as private as Plaskett could be, but the sites are pretty well spaced out. We totally lucked out and were able to get a site for our first night. This was site 24. Tucked on the bottom corner, easy access to the bathroom, and an amazing view of the ocean! Only negative of this site I would say is that the trash cans and recycle bins are right on the edge of your space - but maybe you can call that convenient. We had a few critters attempting to get into the cans, as well as our tub of firewood, but we slept right through the slight ruckus they appeared to have caused.
Our second day in Big Sur began with some delicious breakfast burritos cooked over a small campfire. If you were not able to attain wood from a gas station or general store on your way in, this campground does have bundles of wood you can purchase. The price is actually cheaper than the two you go through, so if you want to hope the campground has wood, it is $8 a bundle, rather than $20 in the town. Also, if you are planning to bike in, there are four reserved spots just for those without vehicles.
We had hoped to stay put for one more night, but after chatting with the camp host, we learned our site was reserved. The host pointed us to a couple of options around the loop, and we went to find the best option. Conveniently, one site that was open for this night was site 20. We got even closer to the ocean edge!
Little did we know, a rainstorm was moving in right from the ocean. Things got super windy towards evening, and we gave up fairly early and just got in our tent. Going to sleep a tad early paid off, as we were under a fair amount of rain for most of the early morning hours. Bravo to our Marmot Limelight for keeping us dry!
This site was great. Still easy access to the bathroom (via a little path through the green) and great ocean views. If you are looking for a great site to camp for multiple days and have your choice of site, we would definitely recommend getting either of the sites we stayed at. If you are lucky, try to reserve one of the sites across from site 20 - sites 21 and 22. These have a large tree growing between them and are right on the cliff facing the ocean. Excellent front row views of sunsets and some shade from a big old tree!
Some Quick Tips:
- There is poison oak at Kirk Creek Campground. Look it up, learn to identify it, and then avoid it while you are there!
- Sites are $25 per night, payable by cash in a drop box or by check to the host. Each site has a picnic table and a fire ring.
- Firewood is available at the campgrounds around here - usually between $8-10 per small bundle, payable by cash in a drop box.
- Kirk Creek has vault toilets, but is a dry campground. Bring all of the water you will need with you.
- We recommend not leaving any food out, as you can bet the friendly resident raccoons will enjoy it while you are not nearby.
- There is trail access to a rocky beach below. Again, avoid the poison oak! It's well worth the trek down. The beach here is gorgeous.
- For more on this trip, check out the first of these two blogs on this adventure in Big Sur.
All photos taken by Andrea & Kim
Cameras: Mamiya M645 1000S, Nikon D750
Film: Kodak Portra 400