Travel File: Limekiln State Park, California

We slowly exited the notoriously windy highway, making our way down the steep incline.

Limekiln_Creek_Campground_BigSur_California_bridge Limekiln_Creek_Campground_BigSur_California_1It was five o’clock.  We pulled up to the kiosk and told the woman in green we had a reservation.

“Amber?” she asked.

“Yes,”  I said with a questioning glance.

“You’re the last party to arrive today” she explained.

We chatted for a bit.  She was from Georgia (or was it North Carolina?).  It was somewhere very different from the landscape she was currently used to.  Matt and I explained that we grew up not far from the area, but were now residents of Texas.  I was elated to have landed the last-minute spot from someone else’s cancellation on-line.

She handed us our map and circled our site.  It wasn’t a redwood site like I’d hoped, but sleeping next to the Pacific didn’t sound so bad either.

We crossed the bridge over the creek, into the dirt parking lot lined with small campsites.

Limekiln_Creek_Campground_BigSur_California_Beach_Camping2Two dudes playing Frisbee gave the universal head-nod in our direction and moved their game so we could park. We let the dog out and sat on the tailgate to take it all in.  Dude threw the disc to Matt, which my husband epically caught while remaining seated, then tossed it back with perfect precision to Other Dude.  Matt and I looked at each other with silent surprise.  Dudes were impressed.  Sprockett had already happily placed himself in the middle of a legion of kids at the neighboring site.

I opened some wine and started rummaging for food, while my husband got to know our neighbors.  They were from southern California, a few brothers and sisters getting together for a family reunion.  Their gathering took up 3 sites next to us; mini-vans, tents and chairs all crowded beneath overhanging trees.

After the chitchat was through and our tent was up, we walked a short distance to the shore for a picnic dinner and sunset.

beach_picnic Limekiln_Creek_Campground_BigSur_California_Beach_Sunset Limekiln_Creek_Campground_BigSur_California_collage

Limekiln_Creek_Campground_BigSur_California_Beach Limekiln_Creek_Campground_BigSur_California_Beach_Sunset_BlackandWhite Limekiln_Creek_Campground_BigSur_California_Beach_Sunset2 Limekiln_Creek_Campground_BigSur_California_Beach_Sunset1 full moonWe awoke early.  Daybreak opened like a well-said prayer; full of gratitude, hope, and a searching heart.  Our night with the sea and a full moon revitalized our union with Nature.  My hardened heart toward our society’s urgent need to self-satisfy with the monopolization of bad chain restaurants and underwhelming shopping malls softened as I allowed myself to be enveloped in the noise of rushing fresh water meeting with the ocean for its first time.  All of the unnecessary distractions of an average day fell off and were lost in the smooth stones beneath my feet.

Limekiln_Creek_Campground_BigSur_California_Beach4Childhood memories of this magical campground came rushing back as we wound our way back into the towers of trees.


Limekiln_Creek_Campground_RedwoodCamping3I remembered the trip where my cousin brought along his pet turtle; I saw my friend and I waking early one morning to go fishing in the stream before any other family members were awake; I’d had boxed mashed potatoes for the first time at that camp site. Arriving at the falls, I was flooded with memories of the boys climbing to the top of the waterfall, while we girls had looked on, impressed.

Limekiln_Creek_Campground_Trails_Falls Limekiln_Creek_Campground_RedwoodCamping2It’s hard to express just how special some places are.  Memories can outweigh all of the natural beauty any one person can appreciate.   It’s not that trees and water and rocks and sunsets aren’t glorious in their own right, because they are.  But add in an afternoon spent balancing along fallen trees with your best friends in the world and suddenly, the tree is a bridge to many sweet things.

Here are some links and other info for you to check out if you are planning a trip to Limekiln Creek Campground and/or the central coast/Big Sur area:

Limekiln has a small but popular campground with 31 sites among the redwoods and 11 sites with an ocean view.  If you are hoping for a redwood site, I personally think site 29 is the best (there’s no way around the fact that all of the sites are small and very close together, but site # 29 is the most secluded, up a little slope above the rest of the sites!)  If you want a beach site, I’d say they’re all about equal.  #3 is a bit more secluded and right by the creek with an easy walk to the restrooms and beach:

limekiln map

This state park is a highly desireable place to camp, and the cost reflects that.  I believe we paid 43$ for a one night stay.  Not cheap, but if you look past the crowded sights, the natural beauty is worth every penny!

A brief history on Limekiln State Park:  From 1887 to 1890 the Rockland Lime and Lumber Company harvested limestone and fed it into four iron and stone lime kilns they erected onsite. Long exposure to very hot fires extracted lime. Barrels of lime were slid on a cable out to Rockland Cove, where they were loaded onto ships. The lime was a key ingredient in the cement that was used for construction in San Francisco and Monterey.  However, after three years the company had exhausted most of the limestone as well as the redwood used to fire the kilns. Today, an easy .5-mile trail leads to the lime smelting ruins.  (I highly suggest it!)

This campground sits in a very unique spot along the coastline of California. Because the park’s geography creates numerous micro-climates, it is one of the only places on the planet where redwoods and yucca thrive so close together!

Watch out for poison oak!

The Official government site for Limekiln

Make reservations (well in advance!) here:  ReserveAmerica

Do YOU have a favorite place that is naturally beautiful but also has wonderful memories?

One thought on “Travel File: Limekiln State Park, California

  1. Amber, this was my very favorite place as a child. Summer Krause’s family took me camping there since we weren’t really able to camp as a family. Summer and I used to explore the woods and walk the fallen tree bridges on trails that are no longer open (or maybe they are again)…this past winter we almost camped there on our way out east but timing was off. I can’t wait to go there again someday! Thanks for this.

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