Fernwood Resort Campground Review

Spring break is all about escaping the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and this year, we found our refuge at the Fernwood Resort Campground in Big Sur. Nestled amongst towering coastal redwoods and alongside the gentle Big Sur River, Fernwood offers a peaceful retreat steeped in natural beauty.

Whether you’re a seasoned camper or a glamping enthusiast, Fernwood caters to all travelers with its extensive range of campsites, cabins, and even motel rooms.

Big Sur Bliss Under the Redwoods

As we rolled up to Fernwood Resort in our Class C Sunseeker motorhome, we were immediately struck by the serene atmosphere. Since Big Sur doesn’t have Uber service, we knew we’d be doing most of our exploring on foot – a perfect excuse to soak up the surroundings. Thankfully, Fernwood itself proved to be a delightful little oasis, with everything we needed within walking distance.

Fernwood Resort Amenities

Our home for the week was a beautiful campsite right on the riverbank. The sound of rushing water became our natural soundtrack, a melody that lulled us to sleep at night and greeted us each morning. 

But the magic of Fernwood extended far beyond our campsite. The true heart of the campground lies in The Tavern. This combination camp store and restaurant boasts a stunning outdoor deck overlooking the river. We ate here often during the week, indulging in their delicious fish tacos, beers on tap and lavender margaritas. It’s a great place to soak up the lively atmosphere, especially during Saturday night’s live music. 

The Tavern is a popular spot for locals too. Be sure to get there early for a table, especially during peak season. The taco plate comes with your choice of protein, pickled onions, cabbage, cilantro, chipotle-lime crema, salsa verde and salsa rojo. Another special is their pizza, which is available with your choice of toppings. We recommend The Wanderlust, topped with pesto, chicken, bacon, artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, toasted pepitas, and shaved parmesan.

Beyond the culinary delights, Fernwood offers a variety of amenities to enhance your stay.

There’s a volleyball court for some friendly competition, and sparkling clean bathrooms with hot showers. You’ll also find a fantastic hiking trail called the Buzzard’s Roost Trail, accessible right from the campground.

For those seeking a more pampered camping experience, the campground provides full hookups on many sites.

If tents or RVs aren’t your style, Fernwood offers cozy cabins for a touch of rustic charm. You can also snag a charming tent site nestled right by the river.

A quick note for all the anglers out there: Big Sur River is a protected habitat for the endangered Steelhead Trout. Fishing is strictly prohibited. However, swimming is permitted in designated areas, so feel free to take a refreshing dip in the cool waters.

A Rare Encounter: The Albino Redwood

One of the unique finds at Fernwood Resort is the presence of an albino redwood. These fascinating trees are a rare genetic anomaly lacking chlorophyll, the pigment that gives plants their green color.

As a result, albino redwoods appear ghostly white and are unable to photosynthesize for food. Instead, they survive by forming a parasitic relationship with neighboring redwoods, sharing nutrients through their root systems. Spotting an albino redwood is a rare treat, and Fernwood is fortunate to have one residing within the campground. Keep an eye out for its pale, almost luminous needles as you explore the grounds.

Big Sur Restaurants

For breakfast, we ventured out to the Ripplewood Cafe. This charming mom-and-pop joint is located about a mile from Fernwood on the highway. This delightful spot serves up Californian comfort food at its finest.

We savored their fresh-made cappuccinos. I enjoyed the Big Sur Omelette, a masterpiece of sautéed mushrooms, green onions, spinach, ham, and jack cheese. Veronica ordered the Breakfast Burrito, filled with scrambled eggs, cheese, green onions and avocado. Served with pinto beans and salsa, it hit the spot perfectly.

Big Sur Hiking Trails

No Big Sur trip is complete without exploring its breathtaking natural beauty. One of our favorite adventures was the short hike to McWay Falls. Since our motorhome wouldn’t fit in the designated parking lot, we parked along the highway for this quick trek. McWay Falls is a truly unique sight. It’s one of the few places on earth where a waterfall cascades directly onto the ocean. The power and serenity of this natural wonder left us awestruck.

Another highlight was our hike on the Pfeiffer Falls Trail within Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Accessed through the Valley View Trail, this scenic 1.75-mile loop offered stunning views of the redwood forest.

Pfeiffer Falls itself is a 35-foot cascade surrounded by lush ferns and moss. While not the most dramatic waterfall in California, its beauty lies in its serenity. The cascading water and the surrounding redwood forest create a peaceful and picturesque scene. Cool off with a mist from the falls or simply enjoy a picnic lunch amidst the towering redwoods.

After working up an appetite, we stopped for lunch at the Homestead Restaurant located inside the Big Sur Lodge. While the views were spectacular, the food itself was rather average. We played it safe with the chicken tender basket and the four-beer sampler. It was a delightful way to experience some local brews.

Camp Cooking at Fernwood

Although we love checking out the local restaurants, we always enjoy cooking up a homemade feast at our campsite. There’s something undeniably special about cooking outdoors. The smoky scent of the campfire mingling with the fresh air, the sound of crackling flames, and the anticipation of a delicious meal!

For one dinner during our trip to Fernwood, I prepared a feast of chicken fajitas. Thinly sliced chicken thighs are marinated in a zesty mixture of orange & lemon juice, chili powder, cumin, cilantro and olive oil. Then, I sear them to perfection on the grill alongside colorful bell peppers and onions. Wrapped in warm tortillas with shredded ghost chili cheese, sour cream, salsa and avocado – they are always a hit.

Another night, we cozied up by the campfire and slow-cooked a hearty green chicken chili stew in our trusty Dutch Oven. Sautéed onions, green peppers, and garlic formed the base, followed by diced chicken, red potatoes, corn, and a jar of Hatch chiles. Chicken broth simmered it all together, creating a comforting and satisfying stew, perfect for a chilly evening under the redwoods.

Cooking the onions and peppers in the dutch oven

For breakfast, we kept things simple yet delicious. Sourdough Breakfast Sandwiches piled high with scrambled eggs and melted cheese made for a quick and satisfying morning fuel. Sometimes, we’d take it up a notch with loaded breakfast quesadillas stuffed with fluffy scrambled eggs, melty cheese, crispy bacon, and chopped avocado.

A Final Note

Our stay at Fernwood Resort Campground was an unforgettable escape into the heart of Big Sur’s magic. From the peaceful riverside setting to the convenient amenities and friendly atmosphere, Fernwood provided the perfect base for exploring the region’s natural wonders. 

Whether you’re a hiker, a nature enthusiast, or simply seeking a relaxing retreat, Fernwood Resort Campground offers something for everyone. Just remember to pack your walking shoes, your swimsuit, and perhaps a good book to enjoy by the tranquil riverbank.

Fernwood Resort Campground Map

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AboutJason Hill

Hi, I’m Jason Hill, host of YouTube’s “Chef Tips” series. I graduated from culinary school in 1998, and gained my experience working the lines in Southern California. I launched my cooking videos in 2007. I love sharing quick and easy recipes that get people back in the kitchen.

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