Camping in Los Padres National Forest Overview
There are a lot of awesome off-road trails to take your Jeep or other 4 wheel drive vehicle on just south of Big Sur in California at Los Padres National Forest.
Last year I drove up and camped over on the beautiful Prewitt Ridge, and this year I wanted to go back and explore more of the trails in the area.
Off-roading in Los Padres National Forest just south of Big Sur is an awesome experience, with drastic views of the Pacific Ocean down below. Not only are there great views and trails but there is also a lot of great free camping along these trails.
The campsite in Los Padres National Forest is great because most of them are first come first serve, meaning you do not need a reservation.
Los Padres National Forest Trail Map
While planning my trip this year, for Memorial Day weekend I wanted to make sure I had back up campsites just in case Prewitt Ridge was crowded during the holiday weekend. I ended up stumbling on this great resource for the Big Sur Area written by the folks at Pacific Overlander. I have never heard of Pacific Overlander before, but they look like a company that allows you to rent jeeps with rooftop tents for overlanding.
Their Big Sur guide is awesome and has a wonderful Google Map of trails and a list of the different popular campsites.
I downloaded their Google Map KML file and uploaded it to Caltop so I could use the Caltopo App while driving to mark my trail and take notes of any other campsites I saw on the drive.
Here is a link to the Caltopo Map version, and I added a handful of other no named campsites that I passed while driving. I hope the few that I added will be able to help you find a site if you are driving up the ridges in the future.
Caltop Map Link
Pro Tip: While off-roading make sure you fully prepared for self recovery. Here are two items I recommend:
- Hi-Lift Jack (Amazon Affiliate): Helps if you get a flat while off-roading and can also be used as a mechanical winch. I have also used this to get out of snow and while center pinned on a rock.
- Traction Mats (Amazon Affiliate): Helps in muddy or slippery terrain where your tires cant get enough traction.
I will be posting another post in the coming days with a detailed trip of my Memorial Day adventure camping at Los Padres National Forest. I was able to get an amazing campsite on Memorial Day weekend overlooking the beautiful pacific ocean: