You can spend $1,000 a night for an ocean-view room in Big Sur. Or you can spend $25 and wake up to the sound of crashing waves plus incredible views of Big Sur’s coastline when staying at Kirk Creek Campground. Located toward the southern end of Big Sur, an hour north of Hearst Castle, this Los Padres National Forest campground looks out on a gently curving bay from a gorgeous bluff about 100 feet above the water. You can’t really go wrong with any of the 33 ocean-view campsites, but #22 and #23 feel especially secluded. A short trail leads down to the beach, where you can walk for a stretch (pay attention to the tides to avoid getting stranded). Just across Highway 1, the Vicente Flat Trail offers outstanding panoramas as it climbs and parallels the coast before heading into the backcountry. About the only amount of roughing it you’ll encounter is no running water or showers. There are a couple of catches to getting a spot here: first-come, first-served walk-ups are only available for another few weeks (until June 1) when the policy changes to reservations-only, due to high demand. (An extra tip: first-come, first-served sites tend to fill up by 9am on Friday mornings.) Or you can just make reservation for a guaranteed spot. A stunning overnight accommodation at an excellent price? Sur thing!
DINNER BONUS: Don’t want to be a chef in the wilds? Treebones Resort, about 10 minutes south of Kirk Creek Campground, serves organic farm-to-table specialties at their Wild Coast Restaurant, including sushi, along with ocean views!
Reservations for Kirk Creek Campground can be made eight days to six months in advance, depending on availability. Walk-ups are also available on a first-come, first-served basis only until June 1, 2014. Sites are $25. Campfires permitted with restrictions based on fire-risk conditions. Here’s a map to the campround. Dog-friendly!