Once in a Lifetime Big Sur Eco-Experiences
Tips for viewing condors while visiting Big Sur:
California Condor 2-Hour Viewing Tour
VWS manages over 64 free-flying condors in Central California. The Highway 1 pullouts are the best places to look for condors starting sometime late morning (the birds are not particularly early risers). Start looking just south of Nepenthe Restaurant (ocean side). The condors often cruise up and down the coast line taking advantage of the coastal breezes and perhaps searching for marine mammal carcasses to feed on. The vista point located at Mile Marker 37.00 and located one mile north of Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is a good place to look for condors soaring along the ridge or perched in the large trees on top of the ridge (those are pretty far away, binoculars are needed). Be sure and check out Mcway falls on the ocean side of the park entrance.
Often on the weekends, you can encounter people trying to photograph the condors. So, if you see people with big cameras, tripods, or large groups assembled, chances are there is a condor around. The condors attract a lot of attention. Sometimes, our biologists mention current or most recent hang-out spots in our monthly condor field notes. Worth looking at as your visit gets closer.
$50/person (Must sign up through Salinas office in advance)
This two-hour tour will lead you down the coast to view magnificent and endangered California condors. Our knowledgeable staff will use radio telemetry to track while taking in the beautiful Big Sur coast.
To sign up please contact 831-455-9514 email:
Weather in the Big Sur region changes quickly and unexpectedly. We would normally wait until Sunday to decide to cancel a tour, but with the remote location, we respect that most of you are coming from out of town. If the weather forecast on the Friday prior to the scheduled tour states that there is a 50% or more chance of rain for Sunday, the tour will be cancelled. If the tour is cancelled: you will receive either an email or phone call to let you know that the tour will not take place and to reschedule. When signing up for the tour, please make sure to provide us with the best way to get a hold of you the Friday afternoon prior to the scheduled tour (cell #, email, hotel name…).
California Condor Sanctuary Tour
$1,000 (Maximum 4 people)
Spend a day with Executive Director, Kelly Sorenson in Big Sur and go searching for condors! Meet at the Discovery Center then travel up to our remote condor sanctuary, high into the Big Sur wilderness on a private dirt road. Ventana Wildlife Society’s condor sanctuary is located in a coastal canyon 2,800 feet above the ocean which is only three miles away! Wild birds often perch near the cabin and are frequently seen in the areas. This tour includes lunch and snacks.
Teen Condor Wilderness Camps - click here for more information
This educational experience is for 13-18 year olds interested in what it takes to be a wildlife field biologist working with endangered species. It is an intense field experience and not for the faint of heart! Over 3 days teens will receive a crash course in basic ornithology, meet ornithologists and condor biologists, learn about the condor reintroduction program, track wild condors utilizing GIS and radio telemetry, and participate in a work project directly benefiting the condors, while camping along the coast and at our remote condor base camp.
Our staff has considerable knowledge of where condors are most likely to be seen - as well as tracking equipment - however condors are wild birds and we can never guarantee a sighting. That being said, nearly all of our tours are successful in viewing free-flying California condors.