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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Reviews

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Explorer

🥈 Contributor

almost 5 years ago

Worth the treck.

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!

Explorer

🥇Top Contributor

about 5 years ago

Epic

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

Explorer

🥈 Contributor

over 5 years ago

Beautiful Spot

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!

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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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