Situated on California’s scenic Big Sur Coast, about 55 miles south of Monterey, Limekiln State Park has weathered its fair share of hardships. It began in the late 1800s, when the Rockland Lime and Lumber Co. began stripping the limestone out of the canyon for use as building materials for the burgeoning San Francisco area. At the time, the redwood forest covering these coastal slopes was almost entirely clearcut. Nearly a century later, after recovering, the area was almost clearcut again, but conservation groups intervened. It finally became a state park in 1995. Since then, a portion of the park burned in 2008, then it was threatened with closure in 2012, due to state budget shortfalls. The park was saved once again when the Save the Redwoods League stepped in to assist with funding and maintenance needs.
The small campground in Limekiln State Park offers 29 campsites in two areas along Limekiln Creek. About half are in an open area near the highway, with beach access; the other half are located upslope, under a canopy of shady redwoods. Sites are small and can only accommodate trailers up to 15 feet, and RVs up to 24 feet; each site is equipped with picnic tables and fire rings. Both upper and lower camp areas have drinking water, restrooms, showers and picnic areas. Firewood gathering is not permitted in the park, and dogs must remain leashed at all times. Visitors should keep in mind that this is a rugged coastal environment, and exercise caution around cliffs and near the ocean; climbing on the cliffs is not permitted. Campsite rates are $35/night.
The main attraction at Limekiln State Park is the old lime kilns that still sit at the base of the hillside, more than a century since their last use. These giant furnaces were used to purify the limestone being mined out of the canyon, before it was shipped north for construction uses. The kilns can be seen via a 0.5-mile trail from the upper camp area. A short side trail on the way to the kilns leads to 100-foot Limekiln Falls. Watch out for poison oak while hiking. The park is also a great place for wildlife watching. Keep your eyes peeled for bobcats, foxes and ringtails on shore, and otters and gray whales in the ocean. More than 200 species of birds are known to inhabit the area, including pelicans, peregrine falcons and California condors.
I’ve camped in many beautiful places since my only stay at Limekiln State Park in January 2013. Generally I travel via motorcycle and have had the opportunity to backpack Glacier National Park on several occasions. So rating Limekiln as my favorite spot makes it a special place. Camping under the giant redwoods next to a running stream in January was simply perfect. I think I was one of only two campsites occupied enjoying the tranquility of the rushing water and the crashing Pacific Ocean just a short walk down stream.
We came without a reservation and got an overflow site right on the beach. You can’t bring your car to the spit but the walk from parking is less than 100 yards. Amazing sunset and comfortable distance from others.
Amazing location. Campers have options for “beachside” camping, or camping among the trees. FYI the “beach” really doesn’t have any sand and is very rocky, and those sites are really exposed and close together, almost like a parking lot. Once among the trees, really short and picturesque hikes to a lovely waterfall and nearby lime kilns can be accessed via a trailhead right in the campground.
We have camped here the last 6 years after a friend told us about it. The camp sights are smaller than other places we camp at, but no matter if you site is a beach site or Redwoods site, they are worth the price. We love getting off the grid, no cell or WiFi, for a few days …. just peaceful relaxation. Both camp sights have flushing toilets and pay showers. The camp host clean the about 2x a day it seems. Each site has a fire circle and picnic bench, even the walk In sites. There are really no services close by, some items like at ice can be bought at Lucia, so everything has to be brought in…
Camped in December (woods). Couldn’t be more happy with the view and the creek running behind us. Lovely to fall asleep with its sound at night! The ground was a bit rocky but nothing compared to the beach camp sites - Woods has more privacy also. There’s no cell reception, nor electricity in the bathrooms. Bathroom was clean ok. We couldn’t get to the waterfall but the walk was pleasant (and very short). We saw a couple of whales on the beach. I would definitely recommend camping in the woods if looking for somewhere peaceful!
You are deep within the magic of Big Sur. Come here to relax and recharge. This camp is close to nothing - in a good way! Escape your phone.
We enjoyed short hikes to see waterfall and like kilns with no one else on the trail.
The camp sites near the ocean seemed a bit windy in November, but we were cozy in the trees.
I have to disagree with the vast majority of reviews on this site for this campground. After reading all of these reviews, I was very excited to camp here! We even splurged and got one of the "ocean" campsites. However, we were very very very disappointed. Their ocean campsites are mostly located on a large dirt lot directly under highway 1. There is no separation between you and the next campsite other than a log or some rocks so expect zero privacy. The highway itself is very loud throughout the day and into the night. The bathrooms were very dirty all the time with mud, dirt, and large trashcans that were constantly full. The showers also were out of order. The squirrels are pretty vicious here and it is sadly due to the improper trash policy this campground has. The trashcans are simply metal trashcans without any type of lock on them. Throughout the day and the night, squirrels and birds would get the lid off the trashcan and rummage through the trash. Unfortunately, it does not appear that the rangers of the campground do much educating on proper interactions with wildlife either as the vast majority of other visitors were also seen feeding the squirrels. It may seem harmless, but it is very unhealthy for these animals!
The hike to the waterfall and the limekilns was pleasant and definitely pretty. It was a short hike and we completed both in about an hour and a half. The beach is also nice overall.
There are 12 ocean sites, three of them are up a rocky slope. There are other sites in the redwoods. We were lucky to get an ocean site without a reservation on a Monday and Tuesday at the end of October but the best spots are best reserved. I believe some are set aside for walk-ins. There is also day use but the beach access is reserved for campers. Two toilets, one sink and one shower for the 12 ocean sites but one of the toilets was out of order while we were there. Although there was a light in the other, it was not working but I would assume campers would have flashlights. Camp hosts are very friendly and we had great conversations with other campers. Sites are kinda close together but while we were there not all were occupied so it felt fine. Four short moderate trails were easily doable in one day. One along a creek, one to a viewpoint, one to a great waterfall (caution; there are four stream crossings) and one to the remains of four lime kilns. No hookups and the size of vehicle (no big RVs) is restricted. Fantastic sunsets and while we loved this campground, it was pricey ($35 vs $20 for Oregon state parks for a non hookup site)
Beaches, mountains, rivers, waterfalls, redwoods, must I say more? It’s BREATHTAKING.
Beautiful campgrounds right by ocean. Can get a little cold with ocean breeze but so beautiful and worth it. Redwoods and hiking in campground too.