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Tips For Camping With Four Dogs at Kirk Creek Campground, Big Sur

  • January 14, 2020
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Tips For Camping With Four Dogs at Kirk Creek Campground, Big Sur

No dogs left behind.   When we camp the dogs come along.  Our friends invited us to join them on their annual camping trip to Kirk Creek in Big Sur and we were more than happy to say yes.  In total there were four dogs and five humans.

This camping adventure led us to Kirk Creek Campground located on the bluffs of Big Sur.  We had epic views of the rugged coastline.  As an added bonus the moon was full and the weather was great!

About Kirk Creek Campground

Undoubtedly the best campground in Big Sur because it’s on the west side of the highway.   You get unobstructed one hundred and eighty degree ocean views.  If you dig a little some might complain about the lack of facilities.   In a way I really like this because it this keeps the crowds down.  I love all things camping and limited facilities don’t bother me. I like the rugged lifestyle. Location wise it’s at the southern part of Big Sur. (See Map)

If you need 800 count sheets and room service, this place is not for you. If you need flushing toilets. Keep driving to the next lodging option.

Small Campground

Although there are only 33 camp sites, they are fairly well spaced out so you don’t feel like you’re on top of your neighbors. With the exception of camp site 1 and 2 that are next to the road, and 2A next to the camp host, you can’t really go wrong with any of the site locations.

We happened to stay in site 7 which offered fantastic views. If I were to try make a reservation for the next time I might try for site 8 which was in front of us.

Kirk Creek Campground With Dogs

Limited Facilities

They have two outhouses which in the five days we were there were clean. The floor didn’t have any litter (I.e toilet paper remnants) during the whole time we stayed with the exception of Saturday night which was the busiest night while we were there.

There isn’t any running water. So come prepared with enough water for you to drink and wash with. A good guideline is two gallons per person per day.

Well Kept

The bushes were cut back. I saw some poison oak but not much.

There were ample trash can stations that had 3 bins each for trash, glass and plastic. The staff picked it up twice a day and the bins never got full during our stay.

No Cell Service

There is no cell service at Kirk Creek Campground. Make your last call while you’re in Cambria because reception gets spotty after that. Once you pass Ragged Point Inn cell service drops to non-existent.

If you need to get back online you will either have to drive 30 minutes north or south of the campground.

You can get wi-fi in one spot at the gift shop at Nepenthe. Don’t plan on streaming any video or uploading any media because the signal is strong enough for you to send/receive texts, check emails and that’s about it.

Kirk Creek Campground With Dogs

When did we go?

We camped five days and four nights between December 12 and 16, 2019.

Get there early

We woke up at 3am so that we could pack the car and be out of our house by 5am. It was critical to get through the LA traffic before gridlock kicked in. As it were we were late and actually didn’t get to leave till 5:25am.

We made a mental note that the next time we go we’d wake up earlier and strive to be out by 4am.

By the time we got through LA, with two stops (one in Thousand Oaks and the other in Santa Barbara to pick up some grocery) it was 3pm by the time we got to Big Sur.

You want to get there early so you can unwind while the sun is still out.  Plus getting there early allows you to pick the best plot of grass to put your tent on.  One of my favorite things to do is soak in the views from inside the tent once we’re all set up.  And as you can see from the video below my dogs did too.

What was the weather like?

It was cold. Now mind you I’m a San Diego resident so my version of cold might be different from your version of cold especially if you are from the Midwest or East Coast cities.

The night temps got down as low as the high 40s while the day temps were in the high 50s to the low 60s. Perfect winter camping weather if you ask me.

On the first evening the fog came in thick. It felt like a constant mist. It was as if the clouds had dropped her wet skirt and was dancing around so that we were constantly wet.

Luckily for us, our friends had been to Big Sur many times so we had a pop up which kept the mist off us. We also had our tents secured pretty well so they stayed dry.

The next day was foggy. It felt mysterious to walk through the campground and only be able to see thirty feet or so in front of you. It’s as if the world is a secret you only get to see with each step and since it was our first morning the whole campground was still so new to us.

After that first day it was relatively sunny during the rest of our stay. The winds did pick up so we made sure we dropped our popup that was over our picnic table every day before we left camp.

Look Out Points

Bring your binoculars.  The bluffs at the campground make for excellent viewing spots to watch the whales go by or simply meditate to the sun setting.

Hikes originating from the campground

There is a trail that is accessible next to camp site 9 that leads down the left side of camp, over a creek, a small wooded area which opens into a rocky beach.

Dog friendly activities

Pfeiffer Beach

State Parks are not dog friendly but you’ll find an exception at Pfeiffer Beach. We went on a cloudy day which was my preference. Give me some dark clouds with the sun peaking through anytime. We went during low tide so we were able to explore a good portion of the beach.

Henry Miller Library

Our friends took us to visit the Henry Miller Memorial Library – a nonprofit arts center and book store. Great vibe with impromptu music concerts. Be sure to check their event calendar to see if there are any performances while you are there. Henry Miller Memorial Library Events | Eventbrite

Big Sur River Inn

We also stopped by Big Sur River Inn located about 40 minutes north from the campground. It’s nestled amid towering redwoods along the scenic Big Sur River. Grab a drink on their outdoor patio and stay awhile.

Mission San Antonio de Padua

About an hour east is a historic mission.  The drive through the mountains is steep and windy but beautiful.  We took our lunch with us and found a campground to pull into and take a break.

Mission San Antonio de Padua

Mission San Antonio de Padua

Tips for your dogs while staying at Kirk Creek

  • Make sure you’re up to date with your flea/tick preventatives. We brought our own homemade version of Wondercide. You can buy your own on Amazon.
  • Bring sweaters or jackets for the short hair dogs.
  • Bring night lights for your dogs to wear around camp.
  • Make sure you have a dog first aid kit with you at all times. The best one I’ve found can be bought at REI.
  • Bring a soft crate so that your dog has a safe place to nap while around camp.
  • Bring several blankets to lay inside their soft crate and on the grass for your dogs.
  • Long lead lines are great. But if you don’t have one, you can do what I do and that is bring extra leashes and tie them together to extend your leash while you’re at camp so your dogs can roam around camp.
  • I always carry multiple carabiners in my fanny pack.
  • Dog wipes to wipe them down after hikes. Sometimes they brush up against poison oak during hikes and even though they aren’t going to react to it, if they brush up against you, then it might cause a nasty reaction your skin.
  • Consider the off season.  December was perfect.  We had cold nights but pretty moderate days and the best part was there was minimal to almost non existent traffic on the the highway.  We were told that the busier summer months meant the road was bumper to bumper of tourists.
  • Bring a tidal map.  We were lucky and the ranger at Pfeiffer State Beach gave us one.

Camping tips for the humans

  • Gas up in Cambria before you get to Big Sur so that your tank is full. Although there are gas stations in Big Sur it’s a premium.
  • There won’t be any cell service after Ragged Point Inn. So be sure to get all your calls done prior to reaching that point.
  • WiFi is available at the Phoenix Shop at Nepenthe. It’s finicky and only works at the top of the stairs before you head into the gift shop. The gift shop is about 30 minutes north of the campgrounds.
  • Bring snow pants for the evenings if you get cold easily. You may find this funny but when it’s foggy and misty out my snow pants saved me. I found a pair for $40 that had insulation and then another pari that was lightweight enough to be hiking pants during the day.
  • Bring strong stakes and a mallet. We’’re experienced campers so our tents were secure and didn’t move when the winds picked up. We noticed some tents in other sites didn’t fare as well and got uprooted and blown over.
  • If you have a pop – up canopy that you put up over your table or tent, take it down before you head out every day because you don’t want it to blow away while you are gone exploring town.
  • The raccoons are brave.  Watch your food and put them away in the car after dinner.
  • Bring a table cloth for the campground table which is a nice long size.
  • Bring cash for the firewood you will buy from the camp host.  We always buy on location because we don’t want to bring bugs from other parts of the state to wherever we are camping at.

Would I come back?

Without hesitation. There are very few places in California that are this beautiful. The rugged jagged rocks, the cliffs, the clouds and fog and the ocean washed my soul. I left feeling lighter and felt that my eyes were brighter.

What activities would we do when we return?

This first trip I was quite content to sit up on the bluff meditating and soaking up the view. The next trip I would like to explore the hiking trails that originate from our campground and hike to Sand Dollar Beach.

Reservation tips

These campsites book up within minutes. Book it at midnight and write down all of the camp sites you’re interested but don’t worry if you don’t get your first choice because any of these with the exception of campsite 1, 2 and 2A would be fantastic to stay in.

Kirk Creek Campground With Dogs
Kirk Creek Campground With Dogs
kirk creek campground big sur (2)


Hannah Zulueta and her two dogs Maggie and Orbit

Hello my name is Hannah and I dance with my dogs.  A self proclaimed Boston Terrier addict, (aka breed advocate) I started this blog because there isn’t enough space to write on our Instagram.  Maggie is my socially awkward one; which I find highly relatable because I am completely out of place in large groups myself.  And Orbit is my sensitive flower.  Blow on her skin wrong (ok I might be exaggerating) and she breaks out in a rash.

You won’t read about cats here… but you will get a fairly large dosage of articles dedicated to the Boston Terrier.    Read more about us. 

By, January 14, 2020
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