May 9, 2014


During my first visit to the US in 2011 Nick and I took an epic road trip up the West Coast. We traveled from San Diego all the way to Seattle in two weeks, camping along the way. This is the story of that journey and you can read the previous posts here.


First things first: California was A LOT colder than I had imagined. My suitcase packed with summer clothes did not suffice for a road trip upstate and I should have definitely brought at least one warmer jacket. The result was that I wore a lot of Nick's clothes during our trip and we both looked a bit weird perhaps. We set out to our campsite for the night after visiting Hearst Castle and making a stop for groceries along the way. Destination: Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. I feel like I can say that this is possibly the best and most impressive camping spot you could find in California. The campsite is right on a cliff overlooking the beautiful Big Sur coast and there are only two spots available. EVER.

The downside is that everyone knows this so it gets booked up pretty quickly. I'd recommend reserving your spots well in advance, although you can get lucky sometimes and find a last minute opening (like we did!).
You can see our basic toilet facilities there
Our small tent and the hiking trail going up the hill
Me, pretending to be cooking

The Campsite

The campsite is a hike in only, which means you have to carry your equipment for the night down a little hiking trail. I was glad we had brought two tents for the trip (Nick was so prepared for this) and our smaller and thus lighter tent seemed perfect for this spot. 

Another important thing to know: it's an old school campsite. So no fancy toilets and no showers. I washed my hair with (ice cold) water Nick poured over my head from a bottle and I have to admit that walking to the bathroom at night with only a flashlight was a bit scary. 

We seemed to be the only ones camping there for the night in a strange turn of events. Either someone changed their mind and didn't show up or they'd got stuck somewhere else, but it meant we were alone on a cliff for a whole night in quite a remote area with bad cell reception. I had multiple possible serial killer scenarios going through my head but once you're able to set that aside, calm down and enjoy the scenery, it is a very peaceful place!

McWay Cove
Overlooking the ocean

So who was Julia Pfeiffer Burns?

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park was originally called Saddle Rock Ranch, because the rock formation resembles a saddle. The woman behind the more recent name was a prominent resident of the Big Sur area and good friends with the last owners of Saddle Rock Ranch: US House Representative Lathrop Brown and his wife Helen. They were the ones that built a house in McWay Cove (named after the original owners). When the Browns left the property to the state of California in 1961 they dedicated it to Ms. Pfeiffer Burns who had passed away in 1928. Although the house was torn down as requested by the Browns in their will, some of the foundations remain so you can get an idea of just how amazing her view must have been. 

McWay Cove and McWay Falls: the view the Browns must have enjoyed in their days
If you feel like 'unplugging' and being away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life for a few days this place is exactly what you need. Also, you'll appreciate a shower so much more the next day! 

What is your favourite camping experience? 

And have you ever camped anywhere remote? 


  1. Your photos are so lovely and the place is indeed a perfect place to camp, but you didn't get into the water? I think it's so lovely, never mind that it's cold haha!

    1. It's a very idyllic place, but I think the water would have been absolutely freezing ;) Also, I'm not sure but I think you're not even 'allowed to go down to the cove since it's a state park. But I could be wrong!

  2. Na talloze jaren ervaring met kamperen, kan ik bevestigen dat het niet went om met een zaklamp midden in de nacht op zoek te gaan naar de sanitaire voorzieningen. Zelfs als ik besloot om in de nabijheid van de slapende medemensen te blijven, doemden er allerlei Blairwitch-project scènes in mijn hoofd op...
    Met zo'n uitzicht vanuit de tent krijg ik wel zin om mijn kampeermateriaal bijeen te scharen :)

    1. Ik heb die film bewust nog altijd niet bekeken! ;) Maar het was inderdaad wel een prachtige omgeving...


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