Andrew Molera State Park is a state park of California, United States, preserving relatively undeveloped land on the Big Sur coast. Situated at the mouth of the Big Sur River, the property was part of the Rancho El Sur land grant, and later owned by the Cooper-Molera ranching family. His sister Frances Molera stipulated that the park should be named for her brother Andrew Molera, who popularized the artichoke in California in 1922, when she sold the property to The Nature Conservancy in 1965.
Activities at the park include hiking, fishing and beachcombing, with miles of trails winding through meadows, beaches and hilltops. A primitive walk-in trail camp, popular with hikers and bikers, is located approximately one-third of a mile from the parking area. It is considered the most reliable surfing area in Big Sur.
The park is 20 miles (32 km) south of Carmel-by-the-Sea on State Route 1.
Andrew Molera State Park features the historic Cooper Cabin, built in 1861 or 1862. It is the oldest structure in Big Sur. Fur trader Juan Bautista Roger Cooper was Andrew Molera's grandfather.
The Ventana Wildlife Society has established a Discovery Center within the park. The Discovery Center includes exhibits on local wildlife, including the California condor, and a bird banding laboratory. Scientists and other laboratory employees give regular tours of Andrew Molera State Park, explaining the flora and fauna that are unique to the area.
The park also features a year-round waterfall, 40-foot (12 m) Highbridge Falls. Other nearby waterfalls include Limekiln Falls, Salmon Creek Falls, McWay Falls in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, and Pfeiffer Falls in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.
Andrew Molera State Park has over 20 miles (32 km) of hiking trails. Some run along the shore, others along the Big Sur River, while still others climb to high ridges with views of the entire Big Sur coast.
The only camping available in the park is in a 24-site walk-in campground. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis. The campground is particularly popular with European visitors. No dogs are allowed on the trails or campground.
Point Sur State Marine Reserve and Marine Conservation Area are marine protected areas offshore from Andrew Molera State Park. Like underwater parks, these marine protected areas help conserve ocean wildlife and marine ecosystems.
John Bautista Rogers Cooper traded Rancho Bolsa del Potrero y Moro Cojo in the northern Salinas Valley with Juan Bautista Alvarado for the Rancho El Sur on which the state park is located today. When the Mexican government ceded California to the United States after the Mexican–American War, the Land Act of 1851 required grantees to provide proof of their title. Cooper filed a claim for Rancho El Sur with the Public Land Commission in 1852, and he received the legal land patent after year of litigation in 1866.
Cooper's daughter, Amelia, married Eusebio Joseph Molera in 1875. When their son Andrew Molera died, his sister Frances, granddaughter of Juan Baustista Roger Cooper, inherited the land. In 1965, almost 100 years after her family gained title, she sold 2,200-acre (890 ha) of the original Cooper land grant to The Nature Conservancy, which held the beachfront property in trust until the state could finance the purchase of the land. She stipulated that the park should be named Andrew Molera State Park in honor of her brother in 1965.
At the county level, Andrew Molera State Park is represented on the Monterey County Board of Supervisors by Supervisor Dave Potter.
In the California State Assembly, Molera State Park is in the 17th Senate District, represented by Democrat Bill Monning, and in the 30th Assembly District, represented by Democrat Anna Caballero.
In the United States House of Representatives, Molera State Park is in California's 20th congressional district, represented by Democrat Jimmy Panetta.