Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

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Not to be confused with Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.jpg
The park's McWay Cove with McWay Falls
Map showing the location of Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
Map showing the location of Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
Location Monterey County, California, USA
Nearest city Carmel-by-the-Sea, California
Coordinates 36°10′15″N 121°40′23″W / 36.17083°N 121.67306°W / 36.17083; -121.67306Coordinates: 36°10′15″N 121°40′23″W / 36.17083°N 121.67306°W / 36.17083; -121.67306
Area 3,762 acres (1,522 ha)
Established 1962
Governing body California Department of Parks and Recreation

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is a state park in California, 12 miles south of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park on California's Pacific coast.[1] A main feature of the park is McWay Falls, which drops over a cliff of 80 feet (24 m) into the Pacific Ocean. The park is also home to 300-foot (90 m) redwoods which are over 2,500 years old.[2] The park is named after Julia Pfeiffer Burns, a respected resident and rancher in the Big Sur region in the early 20th century, who lived in the area for much of her life until her death in 1928.[3] The 3,762-acre (1,522 ha) park was established in 1962.[4]

Location and history[edit]

The park is located on land that was originally called the Saddle Rock Ranch, because of a rock formation in McWay Cove that resembles a saddle. Christopher McWay and his wife Rachel originally settled the area in the late 19th century. The land passed through several owners until former U.S. Representative Lathrop Brown and his wife Helen acquired it in 1924. The Browns constructed an elaborate stone house in McWay Cove, one of the first electrified dwellings in Big Sur, powered by McWay Creek. They befriended Julia Pfeiffer Burns, a local resident, and dedicated the property to her memory in their 1961 bequest to the State of California. The house was torn down as the Browns requested in their will, but some of the walls and fragments of stone staircases remain.[5]


McWay Falls

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park has two environmental hike-in camping areas, named by Sunset magazine as one of the "four best places to pitch a tent on the Pacific Coast."[6] Both sites have exceptional views of the Pacific Coast, but access is restricted to those with camping reservations. The Julia Pfeiffer Burns Underwater Area is a popular location for scuba diving.

The summer 2008 California wildfires burned the upper parts of the park, but were stopped at Highway 1 and did not affect the camping sites. In early 2009 the many non-native acacia trees around the campsites were removed in order to restore vegetation native to the Big Sur Coast. Indigenous plants and trees were then planted, but will take time to grow fully.

Campsite 2 and Mano Seca Bench

In 2007 the Mano Seca group installed a bench at Campsite #2 that can be used to sit and peruse the Pacific below.

Marine protected areas[edit]

Big Creek State Marine Reserve and Big Creek State Marine Conservation Area are marine protected areas offshore from Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. Like underwater parks, these marine protected areas help conserve ocean wildlife and marine ecosystems.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ See Monterey: Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park
  2. ^ Kinneberg, Caroline (August 2010). "America's Most Beautiful Coastal Views". Travel+Lesiure. Retrieved 2012-07-04. 
  3. ^ "Julia Pfeiffer Burns SP". California State Parks. Retrieved 2012-07-04. 
  4. ^ "California State Park System Statistical Report: Fiscal Year 2009/10" (PDF). California State Parks: 24. Retrieved 2012-07-04. 
  5. ^ Henson, Paul; Donald Usner (1993). The Natural History of Big Sur. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press. pp. 328–29. ISBN 9780520074668. 
  6. ^ "Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park". See Monterey, CA. Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Retrieved 2012-07-04. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Verduin, Pamela and Ulrich, Larry. Big Sur to Big Basin: California's Dramatic Central Coast 1998. Chronicle Books. ISBN 978-0-8118-1966-4

External links[edit]