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The incredible California state park of Julia Pfeiffer Burns was named after the incredible Big Sur pioneer of the same name. With a tumbling 80-foot waterfall, plenty of places to hike, scuba diving opportunities, and whale watching, it is no wonder so many people rent an RV in Monterey County every year. This beautiful stretch of coastline is dotted with towering 300-foot redwoods, some of which are over 2,500 years old.
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park was established in 1962 and covers 3762 acres, meaning there is plenty of room for everyone to explore and enjoy the wonderful views and hikes. Just 12 miles north is the more well-known Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, and the beautiful towns of Monterey, Carmel-by-the-Sea, and Salinas are all worth a visit.
The Overlook Trail is one of the most popular in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. At only 0.5 miles, it is an easy hike and, as the name suggests, takes you to a stunning viewpoint of McWay Falls, one of the most unique and majestic falls along the coastline. The 80-foot freshwater falls tumbles down a granite cliff and into a picturesque cove. The fact that the trail is wheelchair friendly means that it can be enjoyed by all. Another good hike in the park is the Partington Cove Trail, which is a mile loop. The steep but short hike that takes you over a bridge and down into a 60ft tunnel.
Scuba diving is another great activity to enjoy in the park. However, this is an advanced diving site, which means that the water entrance and exit can be hazardous, and a valid dive permit must be obtained.
In December and January, people come from all over to go camping at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and make use of the short but impressive whale watching window. The beach is a fantastic spot to keep an eye out for the gray whales that are migrating southwards, many of which pass close to the shore. If you time it right, it can be quite a spectacular sight. In March and April, they can then sometimes be seen heading back the other way. Harbor seals and sea otters can also be spotted in the cove, so be sure to bring your binoculars along with you in your RV rental.
Although there is camping in the park, it is walk-in tent camping only; therefore those that rent a camper near Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park tend to make use of the many nearby campsites. Riverside Campground is one option, offering 34 sites that are suitable for RVs. The campground covers 16 beautiful acres along the Big Sur River, surrounded by towering redwood trees. Picnic tables and fire pits are located at each site, and there are hot showers, laundry facilities, and clean restrooms all available.
Another good choice for motorhome camping is Kirk Creek Campground, often described as an ocean-side paradise. Each site overlooks the Pacific Ocean and is equipped with a campfire ring and table. Vault toilets are located around the campsite. Although this is a rustic campground with few facilities, the incredible views more than makeup for it.
The state park lies in a pretty remote area of coastline; however, the city of Monterey is easily reachable. There is so much to see and do in this vibrant town, but arguably its biggest attraction is its vast aquarium. The Aquarium is filled with touch pools, live sea otters, and a range of incredible creatures that will show you what life is like under the sea in the area.
Take a leisurely stroll from Fisherman’s Wharf to Cannery Row to see some of the most historic parts of town when you camp in an RV near Monterey. Along the way, you are likely to spot some of the California sea lions that call the bay their home. You'll see them lounging on the rocks, splashing around the marina, and hear their distinctive call. Cannery Row is a mix of old canning buildings, and here you can take a self-guided walking tour of this area to learn more about its past.
Fisherman's Wharf is another Monterey highlight. It is filled with restaurants, and souvenirs shops, as well as plenty of walk-up fish stands to keep your hunger satisfied while exploring. If you go all the way to the end of the wharf, you'll find a beautiful bay view from the observation deck, plus there are glass-bottom boat tours for a different perspective of the water.