Camp on Prewitt Ridge

San Francisco Prewitt Ridge

  • Activities:

    Chillin, Camping, Photography, Hiking

  • Skill Level:


  • Season:

    Spring, Summer, Autumn

Dog Friendly
Family Friendly
Picnic Area

Enjoy dispersed camping in the Los Padres National Forest. Prewitt Ridge offers up indescribable Big Sur coastline from above.  Please remember to pack all of your trash out.

After much time in Big Sur, it became quickly apparent that Prewitt Ridge is the crown jewel of camping in the area. It has even been described as "the most beautiful car camping spot on god's green earth" and that doesn't do it justice.

While Prewitt Ridge is an officially designated campground in the Los Padres National Forest, it's "dispersed camping," meaning there's no reservations, no toilets, and no running water. But don't let that discourage you. These are the reasons why PR remains a hidden gem and allows campers immense space and notable views, even on busy holiday weekends.

Let me start with the reason no one goes there - Nacimiento-Fergusson road. You have to climb it to get to the fire road that allows access to the campsite and it's just not the kind of road that most people would consider easy. It is a dirt road that winds its way along too many switchbacks to count until to part ways to drive the ridge road that dead ends into the campground. Although a bit time consuming to drive the road safely, I've seen every type of car do it (even Honda Civics).

Once up there, you won't want to leave. From hiking trails to open space and often friendly neighbors, this site is a camper's dream. Make sure you take extra water, food, and firewood. There's a bunch of spaces available, most with the most epic views. Look for one with a metal fire ring and maybe even a picnic table.

Look up the current sunset time and try and arrive with time to spare. I have never seen better.

  • Bring a LOT of water. The air is very dry. You wont get another water source unless you drive down the mountain. Bring a gallon per person per day.
  • Make sure to have at least half a tank of gas before you go up there. The closest Gas station is 16 miles South in Gorda.
  • Try to allot enough day time to actually get up to the site.
  • Is it fire season? Check to ensure if fires are allowed or if you are restricted to propane stoves.
  • Be prepared for the weather. In late May, it was in the high 50s down on highway 1, but in the high 70s, low 80s up on the Ridge.
  • Be sure to pack out everything you brought in!

Pack List

  • Water
  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Pup up tent for sun coverage
  • Chairs
  • Firewood
  • Games! (Lots of space to play)
  • Jacket (Chilly at night)
  • Shorts (Hot during day)
  • Closed toe shoes
  • Shovel for bathroom procedures (aka no bathrooms)
  • Food
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Overall rating: 

Leave a Review

This place used to be a hidden gem. The past few times I've been there it's been nothing but flies and human waste at every campsite. It's also become so overcrowded it hardly feels "secluded." Lastly, when I visited in June I found several piles of fresh bear scat along the hiking trail. If you choose to visit, make sure to bring bear mace!

3 months ago
3 months ago

Unfortunately you will not be taking Highway 1 going south from Monterrey/ Carmel to get to this camping spot any time soon since recent storms destroyed Pheiffer Bridge and caused a mud slide outside Lucia. Plan accordingly! Check out CalTrans for updates: & to echo the other reviews, TAKE YOUR TRASH WITH YOU! I've been coming to this spot for years now and the litter seems to be increasing with the popularity of the spot.

6 months ago
6 months ago

Absolutely incredible. I went here with my 7 groomsmen for my bachelor party. You can't beat the view, the campsites, (though lacking most basic amenities) and the sunset. This is a must do if you're going to Big Sur.

8 months ago
8 months ago

most amazing experience camping up on Prewitt Ridge. Very quiet and peaceful only two other groups within sight of us. The road there is a bit bumpy but don't let it discourage you. Very worth it in the end!! The view is unlike anything I've ever seen. Also keep in mind the weather can be drastically different up there. It was cold and foggy along the coast but burning hot and sunny as soon as we got up there.

12 months ago
12 months ago

When you visit this area you will see what people have left, TOILET PAPER VERYWHERE. Its against the law to leave your toilet paper on top of the ground that makes it litter with fines up to $1000 for each piece/ handful you leave. The Forest Service wants you to pack it out DON'T LEAVE IT. Your suppose to dig a hole to shit in or purchase a pota potty for a couple hundred dollars and take it with you. There is a fine $ also for popping on top of the ground. That is sick!! You are also required to get a camp fire permit for both your camp fire when in season and for your camp stove. The Forest Service can and will be checking, you can get these on line either on their site or Google campfire permit

about 1 year ago
about 1 year ago

This is a little bit of a drive to get to, but well worth it! Went over a holiday weekend and it was packed, so make sure you get up there early, as the prime spots go fast! Also, make sure you pack out any waste, as tickets can be as much as $1000 for littering. Overall, great experience- definitely a Big Sur gem!

about 1 year ago
about 1 year ago

Quite possibly the best car campsite in the Lower 48 states, though I'm open to any suggestions on what places are better!

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

This is a great option if you don't have a site reserved anywhere else. It's about a 45 min drive up Nacamiento from the coast. Definitely suggest taking an off road vehicle since halfway up it turns into dirt as can get a little gnarly. Also during the summer there are an outrageous amount of flies and honestly makes it unbearable if you don't have an enclosed tent! Late fall and winter months are the best!

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

Hello, I'm glad to hear you had fun! But please give credit to my post ( if you're going to be copying things from there... Thanks :) I also try to remind people to clean up after themselves as I have recently heard from fellow travellers that the area is trashed now with 'shit hills' all over. Please respect the area more everyone! :)

about 2 years ago
about 2 years ago

This article is one of the best places I have ever found because of The Outbound!! This campsite was absolutely gorgeous and breathtaking. More than words or pictures could ever express. I'm so glad that I came across this on The Outbound because it greatly influenced the quality of this trip. I can't wait to make another trip back up here because it's seriously the most insane view I've ever seen in my life.

about 2 years ago
about 2 years ago

Absolutely amazing camping spot! Make sure to bring an active GPS, because the roads split off and it can be a bit of a maze. If arriving after dark finding a good spot is very tricky. Look forward to epic views!

about 2 years ago
about 2 years ago

I've launched my paraglider from that spot before with @kylefrost.

over 2 years ago
over 2 years ago

Try to drive up before dark - the road can be hard to manage in the dark!

over 2 years ago
over 2 years ago

Original article here ?

over 2 years ago
over 2 years ago

Super awesome. Worth the trek. Try to drive up during the day, as navigating potholes in the dark is tougher.

over 2 years ago
over 2 years ago

Love Prewitt. This is the best campsite in Big Sur and probably best car camping spot in California.

over 2 years ago
over 2 years ago

Clare HealyExplorer

Adventure storyteller, outdoor explorer, and taco eater from the west. If you're in the California area, let's go on an adventure.

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