Camp on Prewitt Ridge

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Added by Clare Healy

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.

Tips:
  • 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!
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Chillin
Camping
Photography
Hiking
Dog Friendly
Family Friendly
Forest
Picnic Area
Romantic
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

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Reviews

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over 3 years ago

As Of July 2017, No Campfires

This place is great. I went in Nov 2017. Most of reviews are correct, except: - No campfires are allowed. Neither are charcoal grills. Propane OK. - The place is actually quite clean and tidy. Cleaner than many staffed campgrounds I've been too. - This is accessible coming from the north (southbound Hwy 1). No issue coming from Bay Area.

Beware of bears and human waste

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!

Limited Access due to Highway 1 Closure

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: http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov/ & 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.

780 total saves

4.2/5

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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