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Bike-in Camping at Pfeiffer Big Sur

Old 06-26-21, 01:43 PM
  #1  
Francisco Rocco
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Bike-in Camping at Pfeiffer Big Sur

Hi

I'm planning to bike from Oakland to Pfeiffer Big Sur in late July (fires permitting). I'm hoping to stay a couple days at the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park Campground at one of the Bike and Hike (walk in) sites. I'll be arriving on a Sunday and they don't take reservations. Has anybody used the bike-in option at this campground and is it realistic to expect that I'll be able to find a spot? I've been calling the park number but got nowhere, and if I bike 30 some miles from Monterrey with all my gear and do not find a spot ... it may be a bit of a bummer.

Thank you

Francisco
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Old 06-27-21, 12:04 AM
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imi
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Iím sure youíll get more detailed answers, but I believe H&B spots are one night only.
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Old 06-27-21, 01:18 AM
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Dunno, but north of SF we never had trouble getting a patch of grass or sand in a hiker biker.
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Old 06-27-21, 06:34 AM
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Originally Posted by imi View Post
Iím sure youíll get more detailed answers, but I believe H&B spots are one night only.
Assuming itís a CA state park, maximum of two, but possibly only one night.

https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=26837
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Old 06-27-21, 07:39 AM
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A few miles north of Big Sur is another campground that might allow you to extend your stay in Big Sur. It is a primitive campground at Andrew Molera State Park. According to the website, the campground is currently closed, but it might be worth checking out.
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Old 06-27-21, 07:45 AM
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Did you look through the website for the park? It's got almost all the information you need:

Pfeiffer Big Sur SP (ca.gov)

As for your dates, I'd say your odds of getting a space are very good during the week, but not on a holiday or a weekend. I stayed there once about a decade ago mid-week during the summer and had no trouble getting a campsite when I drove in without a reservation (car camping at that time). Thing might have changed since then. If you haven't done so check reservation.gov to see if its possible to reserve a spot over that website, and don't rely on calling them.
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Old 06-28-21, 04:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Trevtassie View Post
Dunno, but north of SF we never had trouble getting a patch of grass or sand in a hiker biker.
And that was when there were no car vacancies in the middle of summer. Sometimes we were in the HB section by ourselves. Also, if you're not obviously a homeless person likely they'd let you stay more than two nights.
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Old 06-28-21, 01:04 PM
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My recollection of CA state hiker-biker sites is that they don't have a max allowed number, ie they don't fill up. This is logical since you can't reserve a spot, there's no way for the park system to know how many people are touring through, and camping anywhere outside the campgrounds is generally illegal in Big Sur.

On busy weekends it might be cramped. But I recall from staying at the H/B in Pfeiffer Big Sur that there's room for maybe 25 tents so I wouldn't worry
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Old 06-30-21, 08:20 PM
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Thanks for the useful info.

Much appreciated

Francisco
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Old 07-03-21, 07:00 AM
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Originally Posted by fourfa View Post
My recollection of CA state hiker-biker sites is that they don't have a max allowed number, ie they don't fill up. This is logical since you can't reserve a spot, there's no way for the park system to know how many people are touring through, and camping anywhere outside the campgrounds is generally illegal in Big Sur.

On busy weekends it might be cramped. But I recall from staying at the H/B in Pfeiffer Big Sur that there's room for maybe 25 tents so I wouldn't worry
When I have been in coastal California hiker biker sites, they were not usually too crowded, but when they were it sometimes was because the campground used regular sites and assigned however many the camp host or ranger deemed necessary. In some cases they really packed us in to allow as many other campers to get sites as possible. In a couple cases I think we ran across a camp host who apparently just hated cyclists and did whatever they could to inconvenience us. They'd pack us in tight even if the sites weren't full Fortunately that was rare.

When three of us were travelling together there was at least once when it was cheaper to pay for a regular site. In Yellowstone they questioned whether we were allowed to stay in a regular site. I insisted that there was no reason they should discriminate against us because we didn't arrive by car. The hemmed and hawed and said something about calling their supervisor. I don't remember if they actually called, but they eventually gave us the site. Also there may be times when you might prefer to be in a regular site. That could mean you'd be displacing a car camper from the last vacancy though.

Not a hiker biker site, but I recall another time/place where they had a "special rate" for cyclists that was per person. It basically meant that the van full of people (two adults and 5 or 6 kids) would pay less that we would (we were on one site in one tent). The guy kept insisting that it was a special rate and he was on our map. We said no thanks, went up the road a ways and were treated like gold at the next place with a real cyclists discount. They apologized that the bunkhouse was rented out and said normally they'd upgrade us to it for no extra fee. They gave us a discount on awesome meals in their dining room. I was sad years later that they were no longer there in the same format and were bought out by someone who changed it to an RV resort.
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Old 07-03-21, 02:34 PM
  #11  
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I just was there three days ago. the Hiker/Biker sires are open!
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Old 07-03-21, 11:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Francisco Rocco View Post
Hi

I'm planning to bike from Oakland to Pfeiffer Big Sur in late July (fires permitting). I'm hoping to stay a couple days at the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park Campground at one of the Bike and Hike (walk in) sites. I'll be arriving on a Sunday and they don't take reservations. Has anybody used the bike-in option at this campground and is it realistic to expect that I'll be able to find a spot? I've been calling the park number but got nowhere, and if I bike 30 some miles from Monterrey with all my gear and do not find a spot ... it may be a bit of a bummer.

Thank you

Francisco
I stayed at Pfeiffer Big Sur 3 years ago for 2 nights

(1) My experience was most of the hiker/biker sites did not allow or reservations or have problems with space, since bicycles and tents just don't take up that much space.
(2) Pfeiffer Big Sur allows 2 nights (in 2018). I was impressed by the forest so I decided to stay for a second day.

The H&B camp sites at most of the parks don't normally allow reservations, and I only heard of one being full, even at the southern parks. Angel Island (SF) only has boat access, so technically the sites are listed H&B but they require reservations far in advance and charge more than other H&B sites. Angel Island really has regular campsites that prohibit cars. All the other H&B sitess had short stay limits but no reservations, and no problems with overcrowding .

The more southern (e.g. near LA or San Diego) sites had much stricter rules trying to distinguish tourists from transients, so they had 1 night limits, higher fees, etc.
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Old 07-12-21, 03:33 PM
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Pfeiffer-Big Sur biker site is a big community circle

I rode Carmel to San Luis Obispo this April (started on the first Monday after the road opened from the slide at Rat Creek).

Prior to my trip I asked the same questions as you on this forum and got the response that in California they try to never turn away bicyclists at the hiker-biker sites. On my trip I was the only cyclist in each campground so it wasn't an issue but Pfeiffer-Big Sur is one of my favorite hiker biker sites because it is a large communal circle with lots of picnic tables. I don't think they would turn you away even if they are overflowing.

However, there is still room to improve the Pfeiffer- Big Sur campsite. The Whitefish Lake State Park bicycle campground in Montana has a Park tools bicycle vise mounted on a post to make it easy to tune up your bike while you are camped there. The bicycle picnic tables have a generous roof over them so you can shelter there during thunder storms and there is a power outlet and USB power plug mounted on the post the holds the roof over the picnic table. I would suggest that these features be added to all hiker-biker campsites.
Originally Posted by AngeloDolce View Post
I stayed at Pfeiffer Big Sur 3 years ago for 2 nights
(1) My experience was most of the hiker/biker sites did not allow or reservations or have problems with space, since bicycles and tents just don't take up that much space.
(2) Pfeiffer Big Sur allows 2 nights (in 2018). I was impressed by the forest so I decided to stay for a second day.

The H&B camp sites at most of the parks don't normally allow reservations, and I only heard of one being full, even at the southern parks. Angel Island (SF) only has boat access, so technically the sites are listed H&B but they require reservations far in advance and charge more than other H&B sites. Angel Island really has regular campsites that prohibit cars. All the other H&B sitess had short stay limits but no reservations, and no problems with overcrowding .

The more southern (e.g. near LA or San Diego) sites had much stricter rules trying to distinguish tourists from transients, so they had 1 night limits, higher fees, etc.
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Old 07-12-21, 03:55 PM
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Suggestions from earlier thread on Pfeiifer-Big Sur

Here is my thread from April and the suggestions I got on the Big Sur hiker biker sites.
California Hiker/Biker sites open?

Make sure you stop frequently when you are at a safe location and take your time to enjoy the scenery. Many of the bridges in Big Sur have been replaced and they have good shoulders for bicycles. I think the bridges are some of the best places to stop and take in the scenery. You usually get an open vista to the ocean and you get a great canyon view inland and a beautiful rocky stream straight below. Unfortunately, I didn't figure this out immediately and I missed a lot of scenic stops. Visitors in cars can't enjoy these spectacular locations.

Originally Posted by Francisco Rocco View Post
Hi

I'm planning to bike from Oakland to Pfeiffer Big Sur in late July (fires permitting). I'm hoping to stay a couple days at the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park Campground at one of the Bike and Hike (walk in) sites. I'll be arriving on a Sunday and they don't take reservations. Has anybody used the bike-in option at this campground and is it realistic to expect that I'll be able to find a spot? I've been calling the park number but got nowhere, and if I bike 30 some miles from Monterrey with all my gear and do not find a spot ... it may be a bit of a bummer.

Thank you

Francisco
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Old 07-12-21, 04:01 PM
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Originally Posted by kevmcd View Post
Here is my thread from April and the suggestions I got on the Big Sur hiker biker sites.
California Hiker/Biker sites open?

Make sure you stop frequently when you are at a safe location and take your time to enjoy the scenery. Many of the bridges in Big Sur have been replaced and they have good shoulders for bicycles. I think the bridges are some of the best places to stop and take in the scenery. You usually get an open vista to the ocean and you get a great canyon view inland and a beautiful rocky stream straight below. Unfortunately, I didn't figure this out immediately and I missed a lot of scenic stops. Visitors in cars can't enjoy these spectacular locations.
Oh yeah, this, the coastal road has some great views and some wide shoulders/bicycle lanes with great views. You can see the car drivers drooling with envy as they whizz by as you take a picture of yet another scenic vista.
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Old 08-06-21, 02:51 PM
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Being a bit paranoid, I'd usually call each state park ahead of time to get their H&B site policy. I received a good answer each time.
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Old 08-07-21, 06:01 AM
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Oh. one other thing... I typically have stayed in the hiker biker sites when that was an option, but I think you are also allowed to reserve a regular site. Why might you do that? A few reasons come to mind. One is that you may want a longer stay than the hiker biker site allows. Another is that you might be in a group large enough that a regular site is cheaper depending on how they charge (per tent?, per head?). I think we only did it once on the TA, but in one campground (Yellowstone) a regular site was cheaper for the three of us (in one tent). I was solo when I did the Pacific Coast so it never came up. plus I was enjoying the gang at the HB sites, but I could imagine it being a possibility.

In Yellowstone the person at sign in questioned whether we were allowed to stay in a regular site. It took a little insistence that we had the same rights as someone who arrived in a car and ultimately they needed to call a supervisor before they relented.

At one private campground they tried to charge us $30 ($10 per head for three of us) while a family of 6 or 7 rolled in and was charged $20 for the van load. He kept saying "I am on your map" and "it is a special price for bikes". He acted like he was doing us a favor and we had to stay there. We said no thanks and rolled on.
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