Pfeiffer Beach, while hard to find, is one of the most popular beach access points in Big Sur. On our rainy weekday visit it was nearly deserted, but it’s easy to see why crowds gather here in good weather to enjoy the drama of the surf crashing through arches in the rocky crags and spending itself on the sand. Towering cliffs provide a backdrop but don't shelter you from the strong, chilly winds that are typical here.
The path from the parking lot to the beach is no more than 50 yards and has very little slope. Though the beach looks steep, I easily moved across the hard sand to the nearby surf using a beach wheelchair. As if this wasn't enough of a treat, a flock of turkey vultures scavenging nearby turned out to include a couple of California condors!
The facilities listed below meet all of our access criteria unless otherwise noted.
Ask at entrance kiosk; staff typically on duty daily, 10 am-5 pm
Sycamore Canyon Road is unmarked and very easy to miss: look for the only paved, ungated road west of Highway One between the Big Sur post office and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Once you find the turnout, make a very sharp turn, then follow the road about two miles to its end. The parking lot is at the entrance.
Parks Management Company Inc. (for the U.S. Forest Service)
Sycamore Canyon Rd., two miles west of Hwy. 1, Big Sur
9 am-8 pm
Did You Know?
Storms sometimes wash in purple sand, particularly at the northern end of the beach. Caused by manganese garnet eroding from the nearby hillsides, this magnificently-hued sand undulates across the beach in shades from pink to deep purple.
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