Are you planning a camping trip soon but still don’t know where to go? Does the idea of choosing one from many camping sites stress you out? If you answered “yes” to both of these questions, I’m here to help. I’ve written this article to feature everything you need to know about Ventana Campground — from its pros and cons, and tips on how to make your Big Sur camping adventure more fun and memorable.
Ventana Campground in the Big Sur is located approximately 30 miles south of Carmel and 65 miles north of San Simeon. It’s a breathtaking 40-acre land filled with redwood trees. All the traditional camping sites around the area still follow the existing contour of the canyon and Post Creek without disrupting its natural beauty.
Ventana Campground features two modern bath houses, and each campsite has a picnic table and fire ring, with water faucets a short walk away. The campground is situated near restaurants, general stores, taverns, gift shops, cafes, delis, and even the Big Sur Post Office.
Unlike other campgrounds, Ventana Campground is a tent-only campground. It doesn’t accommodate motor homes, pop-up tent trailers, RVs, travel trailers, and trucks with roof tents. Check-in is at 4:00 PM, and check-out is at 11:00 AM.
Ventana Campground: The Best Campgrounds
Ventana Campground has a lot to offer — too many that you’ll see yourself overwhelmed with too many options. Knowing where to camp should be the first on your to-do list, as you still need to research the place to determine your budget, activities, and things to bring.
You can enjoy the Ventana wilderness by staying at one of the campgrounds mentioned below. I guarantee you: all of the campgrounds included in this list offer something unique that’ll surely make your camping trip more memorable!
Looking for a campsite that gained positive reviews from other campers? Then Kirk Creek should be on top of your itinerary. Staying here allows you to bask in the views of the Pacific Ocean on the 100-foot bluff. It’s located on a great rocky beach, which means you can enjoy the ocean’s cold breeze and relax as you listen to the waves.
You can reach Kirk Creek through different hiking trails — there’s a shorter trail that you can complete after a few hours of hiking or using a mountain bike. Traversing the trails using a mountain bike is common for tourists and locals here, so don’t be surprised if you see too many bikers on your way to Kirk Creek.
If you want to have a picnic in the area, no need to bring glamping tents or a campfire ring and grill, as these will be provided by the resort. This means you can hike and bike without carrying a lot of weight.
Limekiln State Park Campground
If you want to take a break from the hustles and bustles of busy city life and just enjoy the great outdoors, you should definitely stay in the Limekiln State Park Campground. Here, you can relax listening to the melodious voices of the birds who live in the Limekiln Canyon. You can also enjoy the cool waters of the small beach located at the bottom of the Limekiln Canyon.
To get to the Limekiln State Park Campground, you need to traverse hiking trails. Fortunately, the hike will be easy as you don’t have to bring tables and stoves with you — all of these are provided on the camping site.
Riverside Camping Sites
Riverside camping sites enable you to spend the night along the Big Sur River and enjoy the noise of water flowing. This campsite offers epic views, but it is generally more expensive than other sites. This place is open for RV and tent campers.
Riverside camping sites charge $75 per night, which is a bit lesser than Ventana. The campsite has more facilities, such as laundry and grocery stores with on-camp delivery. It also features a tent cabin where you can cook. Or if you don’t want to get your hands dirty in the kitchen, you can dine at the nearby restaurants for lunch or dinner.
Big Sur Camping Sites
The best camping sites are located in Big Sur. It’s a luxurious camping site located in the valley, where you can choose from different cabins and tenting options. However, the prices here are exceptionally high. You’ll have to pay around $65 to $80 per night to stay here.
Unlike other campsites, you’ll have access to two volleyball and basketball courts when you stay here. They also offer several outdoor activities for campers, such as playing on the fishing line and swimming in the river.
Julia Pfeiffer Burns Camping Site
Julia Pfeiffer Burns Camping Site has become a favorite among many locals and tourists because of its views and proximity to Mcway Falls. This campsite offers the most iconic views yet comes at an affordable price. You just need to pay $30 to camp here for one night.
You can’t reach this camping site using any vehicle, so be ready to hike to reach your destination. The area has a fire pit and several picnic tables but doesn’t have any garbage bins. Make sure to bring your own trash bag to avoid dirtying the place.
Sand Dollar beach is popular in Central California, and you’ll have easy access to this beach if you camp around Plaskett Creek. One thing you find in this camping site is hiking trails, so consider packing your hiking gear if you want to take on some trails.
When you’re in Plaskett Creek, the natural fragrance of Monterey Pines, Cedar trees, and Cypress trees will embrace you. These trees are common in the area, which is why it’s cooler and warmer here, even during the daytime. This is one of the best spots to relax with your friends and family.
Ventana Camping Place
The Ventana Camping Place is definitely the most luxurious among all the campsites in Big Sur because it offers more facilities. This campsite has restrooms, picnic tables, and a store where you can buy firewood.
Ventana Campground: The Good and The Bad
Although Ventana Campground is a must-visit, it’s not perfect. It gained many positive reviews from campers who visited the area, but it also has some negative reviews.
If you’re going to visit Ventana Campground, it’s crucial to know the good and the bad, so you can set your expectations and mitigate issues early. Being equipped with this information will help make your trip to Ventana Campground one for the books!
First, the Good Things…
Ventana Campground and all of its camping sites are clean and clear. I have gone through several reviews and thought they were wrong. I was thinking, “How can a campsite be clean all the time?” But I was proven wrong because the area was indeed tidy. The staff really does an excellent job in making sure that the campground remains clean and safe for everyone.
Camp under redwoods
Camping under the redwood trees is a magical experience, especially during the golden hour when the light filters in and makes everything around look dreamy and warm. Don’t forget to take pictures, as the scenery here is breathtaking!
Water Pumps Available
Worried that you’ll run out of water when camping? You won’t have this problem when you camp at the Ventana Campground. There are plenty of water pumps available in the area, so it’s easy to refill water without hiking for long periods. Some campsites even have one next to them, which will surely bring convenience to your camping trip.
Your camping experience here in Ventana Campground is guaranteed stress-free because the area is pretty secure. The front check-in area and gates close at 9 PM, and campers are given a code before they can enter the campground. The staff buzz by in carts every 15 to 20 minutes during the day — a view that’ll definitely make you feel safe as you camp.
According to reviews, campers never felt unsafe when they were in Ventana Campground as the staff is visible during the day and the gates are closed at night.
LTE Service Available
LTE service is available when you’re in the Ventana Campground. Because of this, you won’t have any problem loading maps and researching the best eats while you’re on the camping site. Plus, the availability of LTE service in the area allows you to post your camping pictures in real time!
This might be one of the best things in Ventana Campground: they have modern and decent-looking toilets! Each bath house on the campsite has single bathrooms, as well as a group of women’s and men’s bathrooms. The bathrooms are cleaned every morning, meaning they don’t get dirtier during the later part of the day.
On-Site Coffee Shops, Bars, and BBQs
Gone are the days when you’ll only have to cook and eat meals you brought from home whenever you camp. Ventana Campground has coffee shops, bars, and BBQs on site that adds a touch of luxury to the campsite. If you want to dine here, make sure to stretch your budget a little as goods at the campsite are expensive.
Ventana Glamping Tents
If you don’t want to camp but don’t have the budget to book a hotel room, consider staying at one of Ventana’s glamping tents. Glamping is a combination of two different things: glamorous camping or camping plus glamour. These accommodations are unique, comfortable, and look beautiful.
..And Then The Bad Things
For you to fully enjoy what Ventana Campground has to offer, you need to prepare a bigger budget as most of the amenities here are expensive. To give you an idea, the campsites cost about $85 per night, which is more expensive than most campsites around Big Sure, like Kirk Creek Compound and Limekiln.
Camping in Ventana Campground is expensive, but it’s still cheaper than most hotels in the Big Sur area. The Ventana Big Sur Resort and other cabins are expensive, too!
Showers cost $2
One of the most common issues campers face when they’re tent-camping in Ventana Campground is paying $2 for every five minutes of shower. Many campers feel that since the campsite price is already inflated, showers should be free.
Not All Campsites Are Created Equal
Similar to other campgrounds, campsites are different here in the Big Sur — some sites are better than others. If you’re planning to spend a busy weekend or holiday here, it would be a waste to spend an entire day at a crappy campsite and pay so much for it.
You Can Only Burn Big Sur Firewood
Planning to warm up in a fire pit while camping? You sure can, but only if you burn Big Sure firewood. The bundles are $9 each, which is pretty expensive. On average, you’re going to use about four bundles every night. This can significantly add up to the cost of your entire camping trip.
Ventana Campground: Things to Pack
Now that you know the good and bad things about Ventana Campground, it’s time to pack. This is important because the camping gear you’ll bring can make or break your experience — you won’t be able to enjoy the campsite if you fail to bring the necessities.
Don’t forget to pack the following when camping at Ventana Campground:
You need to bring a good flashlight, so you can see well in the dark. Having one will make you see clearly and ensure your safety, especially if you need to use the restroom in the middle of the night.
The ground of the mountains isn’t as soft as your bed at home and can make it very challenging for you to get some shuteye. Make sure to bring a high-quality sleeping bag when you camp in the Ventana Campground, so you can sleep well throughout the night.
Do you prefer cooking your own meals from scratch to buying meals from nearby restaurants and cafes? If “yes,” then don’t leave home without your cooking gear. This will be inconvenient as you’ll need to carry more weight going to the campsite, but your efforts will be worth it as you can save a few bucks.
Power Bank and Chargers
Always bring power banks and chargers to ensure your devices work when you’re camping. For instance, you’ll need to use your phone to access a map. Plus, you’ll also need your devices to upload those Instagram-worthy camping pictures!
You’ll need to bring a pocket knife when camping for many different reasons. You can use it to slice the ingredients of your meals, cut the ropes when securing your tent, and even cut sticks for your fire pit.
Ventana Campground: The Best Time to Visit
One of the most common questions asked online is when is the best time to visit Ventana Campground. Well, the answer to this question depends on your preferences.
If you don’t mind camping with many campers, you should visit the campground from April to October as these months are the peak season. However, if you want to enjoy the calmness of nature and have the campsite all to yourself, visit after the month of October.
Knowledge is Power
The entire campground of Ventana offers a lot of things, so make sure to include this spot in your bucket list. It has several campsites to choose from, meaning you can stay at one that suits your budget and preferences.
Use this article as your guide as you camp at Ventana Campgrounds. The more you know about this campsite, the easier it’ll be for you to prepare and enjoy your stay!