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Big Sur

David Aldrich and John Wright soar into the sunset at Big Sur California
MSL 3200 ft
AGL 3000 ft
Glide to LZ 5:1
Rating/Skills H2/P2
Wind Directions W,WSW,WNW
Season late fall to spring
Restrictions National forest
Site Type Mountain
Fees None
Contact ...
Links Big Sur Weather

Los Padres National Forest

Site Panoramic Images
Big Sur LZ
Big Sur Launch


Big Sur is one of the most beautiful sites in California. Pilots can often see whales in the ocean below during their migrations. It is suitable for novice to advanced HG/PG. Count on having a beautiful, smooth, sled ride, but soaring flights can be had on pre and post frontal days.


This site has been in continuous use since the 1970s.


This is a mountain site on the California Central coast along the Big Sur coast line. Thermal and ridge lift can be encountered as well as sea breeze. The LZ will often be obscured by a marine layer. It is usually too foggy to fly at Big Sur during the summer. The main LZ is across the highway from the ranger station. Best to have your own windsock.

Warning: Fog can form FAST it is not advisable to launch.

A flight to the borderlands

Video of 4 flights at Big Sur (click high quality)


The site is open to any pilot. The site can be flown by H2/P2, though a good introduction and LZ walk through from a local or other familiar pilot is recommended.

Directions to Launch/LZ

The LZ is a field just North of Sand Dollar Cove on the ocean side. There is a cattle gate ladder and a wide spot in the road for parking. The landing is slightly uphill and slightly up the prevailing wind and very wide. Low bushes and cowpies are the only hazards.

Bring your own wind streamer, take it with you when you go.

Launch is a more challenging road. If you are coming from the North, pass the town of Lucia and turn left on Nacimiento-Ferguson Road. If you are coming from the campground/LZ, go north and turn right Nacimiento-Ferguson Road. Keep following this road about 7 miles until you crest the summit of the range overlooking the Pacific. At the summit, turn right on the dirt road (there is a sign that says Prewitt Ridge 5 miles). This is the road to launch. Approximately 4½ miles down the dirt road there is an unmarked road coming in from the right. It looks about as heavily traveled as the main dirt road. Turn right and follow the road out to the front of the ridge (about ½ mile). When the road branches in three directions, take the middle branch and drive 100 yards to the crest of the ridge. You are on launch.

Two wheel drive vehicles can traverse the road, but cars and vans with low clearance are advised to drive with care, lest they puncture a transmission oil pan and/or mess up an axle (**cough** KnumbKnuts **cough**)


There are numerous campgrounds to choose from in the area. The surest bet is to reserve a group campsite at Plaskett Creek campground through, but they book out far in advance. You can also camp at launch (you'll need an open fire permit from the forestry service)... bring lots of water, as there is no source there. There are no toliets on launch or in the LZ. The closest town are Lucia (north) and Gorda (south). Gorda has convenience store, very expensive gas and a nice/friendly resturant. Lucia has a resturant that's open for breakfast and lunch. Best to bring your own food.

Google Maps

<googlemap lat="35.955377" lon="-121.457786" zoom="13" scale="yes" controls="large"> 35.971299, -121.453027, Wild Cattle Launch 35.932435, -121.469551, Big Sur LZ