My best friend and I did a Californian road trip and lived out of a camper van for 10 days. Grossly underestimating the drive times between places, we had to stop to sleep far short of our destination (San Francisco).
Luckily, I had done a bit of research before we left and knew that there was a free (seriously) campsite along the coast on Nacimiento-Fergusson Road.
We thought it would be too good to be true but took a chance on trusting the advice of the blog anyways. We drove up, up, up a scary steep mountainside road at sundown knowing that if this didn’t work out we’d be royally screwed because there was no option of driving back down the road without light.
We found ourselves a perfect mountainside campsite on the side of the road that overlooked the ocean. It was dead quiet, there was no cell service and it couldn’t have been a more perfect place to watch the sun go down.
If you’re doing the drive along the Big Sur Coast I urge you to try to find a mountainside campsite along Nacimiento-Fergusson Road. The sites along the road are known as dispersed campsites so you don’t need to pay or make reservations. The narrow road up is exciting and treacherous, there are no washrooms or running water and no cell service. This is truly off the grid so make sure you know what you’re getting into because you can’t go back down the road at nighttime (seriously, chances are you’ll drive off the cliff).
Here are the directions we followed, in a direct quote from Frugal Shunpiker’s Guide for the California Mountains and Coast:
Nacimiento-Fergusson Rd meets Hwy 1 just south of Kirk Creek Campground and runs east into the National Forest. It’s a steep narrow winding paved road. If you do decide to climb east on this road, you may be committed for at least 7 miles before you can turn around safely. It does provide great views and various roadside turn-outs offer a place to pull off to let slower traffic pass or take a photo.