Grace Quan Moonlight

Frequently Asked Questions

Got a question? Check our list of FAQs.

GENERAL PARK INFO

Is China Camp a State Park?

The state owns the land and we abide by all regulations administered by the state, but since 2012, the park has been operated and managed by the Friends of China Camp, a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. For more info, go here.

How big is this park? 

China Camp State Park protects roughly 1,500 acres of salt marsh and freshwater wetlands, meadows, oak and bay woodlands, and chaparral. It also features a historic shrimp-fishing village dating to the late 1800s. 

How many miles of trails are there at China Camp?

There are roughly 14 miles of trails lacing the park, with most open to hiking, running, horseback riding, and mountain-biking. The ¾-mile, mostly-flat handicap-accessible Turtle Back Nature Trail is open to foot traffic only (strollers okay). For more on our trails, go here

What should I do in case of emergency?

Call 911. 

Where can I get potable/drinkable water in the park?

There are potable water faucets, drinking fountains, and flush toilets at day-use areas and at Back Ranch Meadows Campground. There is also a drinking fountain and faucet at the Back Ranch Meadows kiosk, at the Shoreline Trail trailhead. NOTE: There is no potable water at Miwok Meadows.

Where are there bathrooms at China Camp?
Public restrooms with flush toilets are available at the day-use areas, including China Camp Point and China Camp Village. Portable toilets are also available at the en-route/group camping area at Back Ranch Meadows Campground, and at Miwok Meadows. The campground also has flush toilets but these are reserved for the use of campers.

Where is the closest place to get groceries/ice/charcoal, etc.?

These are the closest grocery/quick-stop stores. Check individual sites for hours and other details.

  • Andy’s Local Market (75 Loch Lomond Drive, San Rafael): 2 miles east of China Camp Ranger Station, just off N. San Pedro Rd. Full grocery, hot and cold gourmet deli.
  • 7-Eleven (292 N. San Pedro Rd., San Rafael): 2 miles northwest from Back Ranch Meadows kiosk. Quick-stop shopping; briquettes and ice available.
  • Santa Venetia Market (71 San Pablo Ave., San Rafael): 3 miles northwest of Back Ranch Meadows kiosk, just off N. San Pedro Rd. Small but well-stocked neighborhood grocery store; full-service deli.

DISTANCES

How far is it to China Camp State Park?

  • From U.S. 101 (N. San Pedro Road exit) to: 
    • Back Ranch Meadows Campground: 3.4 miles
    • China Camp Ranger Station: 5.7 miles
    • China Camp Point & Village: 7.1 miles
  • From China Camp Ranger Station to:
    • Back Ranch Meadows Campground: 2.3 miles
    • China Camp Point & Village: .4 miles
  • From U.S. 101 (Central San Rafael exit) to:  
    • China Camp Point/ Village: 5.3 miles
    • China Camp Ranger Station: 5.7 miles
    • Back Ranch Meadows Campground: 8 miles

 

LOST AND FOUND

I think I lost something in the park. What should I do?

Found items are logged and kept safely at the Ranger Station for up to 6 months. If you think you have lost something in the park, or you found something, stop by the Ranger Station (101 Peacock Gap Trail), or call (415) 456-0766.

 

PASSES & MEMBERSHIP

Why do you charge for trail access and for parking at day-use areas?

China Camp receives no funds from federal, state, or local sources. In order to operate and manage the park, the park operator, Friends of China Camp, must be funded from other sources. The daily and annual trail and parking passes that you purchase, along with camping fees, firewood and cafe sales, donations, and grants, allow Friends of China Camp to keep the park maintained and open. 

Where can I buy an annual trail and/or parking pass?

You can purchase annual passes here with credit card. You can also purchase an annual pass with credit card or cash (exact amount; no change given) at Electronic Pay Stations throughout the park, and at Back Ranch Campground kiosk when personnel are present. Follow directions on the back of your receipt to receive your permanent pass (usually mailed within 1-2 weeks). Directions for redeeming can be found here

When I get an annual pass do I become a member of Friends of China Camp?

Yes, purchasing an annual pass automatically makes you a member. You will receive a quarterly newsletter and other benefits, depending on your membership level. For more information, go here.

Where do I need a parking pass at China Camp?

A day-use parking pass ($5) or an annual parking pass ($60 and up) are needed to park at the following locations (for details, go here):

  • Buckeye Point
  • Weber Point
  • Bullhead Flat
  • China Camp Point
  • China Camp Village
  • Back Ranch Meadows Campground

Should hikers and bikers carry proof of payment or leave proof on the dashboard of their cars? 

If you are parking in a pay area and you plan to use the trails, please keep your payment receipt with you. If possible, place a note in your dashboard noting that you have paid. If you return to your car and there is a payment envelope left under your windshield wiper, and you have already paid, please disregard. If you have not paid for parking, please use the envelope and deposit it in the nearest Iron Ranger payment station, or use the closest electronic pay machine.

Do I need a trail pass if I’m camping at Back Ranch Meadows or the group campground? 

No, your camping fee coverS access to all our trails and fee-parking areas.

Is my CA State Parks annual pass good at China Camp?

Yes. 

Does my Distinguished Veteran’s Pass work at China Camp?

Yes.

Does my limited-use Golden Bear Pass work at China Camp?

Yes; the pass allows persons over age 62 to park for free at China Camp during the off-peak season (Labor Day to Memorial Day).

Can I buy a CA State Parks Pass at China Camp?

No. These passes are not for sale at China Camp, though you can purchase them at other local state parks, including Mount Tamalpais and Samuel P. Taylor State Parks.

Does my Golden Poppy Vehicle Day-Use Annual Pass work at China Camp?

Yes.

Does my Explorer Vehicle Day-Use Pass work at China Camp?

Yes.

Is there a senior discount at China Camp?

No.

How can I use my library card for a day pass?

California State Parks has created a special “California State Library Parks Pass,” providing day-use access at parks statewide, including China Camp. To find out how to get a free pass, visit this page. this page. 

Where can I park if I don’t have a parking pass? 

There is no charge for parking safely at pull-outs along North San Pedro Road.

 

VOLUNTEERING

Can I volunteer to help at China Camp?

Yes! For example, there are regular volunteer trail-maintenance days. Staffing the campground kiosk and leading hikes are two more great ways to volunteer, but the opportunities are only limited by your imagination, curiosity, and interests. Come join in the fun! There’s something for everyone. For information, visit this page.

 

HIKING & MOUNTAIN BIKING

There are trails that show up on All Trails and Google Maps that aren’t on China Camp’s “official” brochure map? Can I use them?

No. Trails not on our official map have been created and used illegally. They can severely damage habitat, cause erosion and runoff, and disturb wildlife. Using illegal trails can also put you at high risk of poison oak and getting tick bites, which can transmit serious illnesses such as Lyme disease. 

Can I use an e-bike at China Camp?

Only Class 1 pedal-assist e-bikes are allowed on trails and fire roads. 

 

BOATING & FISHING

Can I launch my boat at China Camp?

The park has two designated locations for launching non-motorized watercraft (canoes, kayaks, SUPs, etc.). One is at our Bullhead Flat day-use area; the other is adjacent to the parking lot at China Camp Village. For details on CA Boat-Use Pass, please visit this page

Can I rent a kayak at China Camp?

No. The closest location for renting kayaks is 101 Surf Sports, 115 Third St., San Rafael; (415) 524-8492. During summer, kayaks may be available for rent at Bucks Landing, just outside the park. (Restrictions on where you can paddle may apply.) 

Where can I fish at China Camp?

Fishing is allowed from the China Camp Village pier, and from developed scenic points throughout the park. Please remove all fishing line and any other litter, as it can be extremely hazardous for wildlife. 

Do I need a fishing license at China Camp?

A California Fishing License is required for each person over age 13. The closest location for purchasing a license is Big 5 Sporting Goods, 160 Northgate Drive, San Rafael; (415) 479-6211. 

 

CHINA CAMP VILLAGE & BEACH

When is the museum open?

Our open-air museum at China Camp Village is open from roughly 8 a.m. to sunset daily. There is no entrance fee, however there is a $5 parking fee at China Camp Village (annual parking pass accepted).

When is the cafe open? 

The cafe weekends usually from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sandwiches, drinks, ice cream, and light snacks are available, as are China Camp t-shirts.

 

DAY-USE AREAS

Can I reserve a day-use area at China Camp?

The park has several day-use areas of different sizes that can be reserved in advance. Areas have picnic tables, outdoor grills, potable water, and flush toilets unless noted. Hours are 8 a.m. to sunset unless noted or by special arrangement. For details on our day-use areas, go here.

 

FIRES, FIREWOOD, & 

RED FLAG WARNINGS

Where can I have a campfire at China Camp?

No ground fires are permitted except in the campground fire pits, and only by paying campers.

Where can I get firewood for my campfire?

Friends of China Camp sells firewood daily from the main parking lot, near the entrance to sites 1-15. Cost is $8/bundle, payable by cash or credit card. If using cash, try to have the exact amount as change may not be available. 

Do you sell charcoal briquettes for grills?

No. The closest place to buy charcoal briquettes is 7-Eleven, roughly two miles northwest of the park along N. San Pedro Rd.

There is lots of dead wood in the area. Can I use it in my campfire?

Collecting wood anywhere in the park is illegal. No dead or fallen wood can be collected, and may not be burned at any location in the park.

Can I use my campstove in the park?

Camping stoves are allowed in the park, but only in the campground or at developed day-use areas with outdoor grills.

Can I have a bonfire at the beach?

No. 

What is a Red Flag Warning?

A Red Flag Warning means that critical fire weather conditions are expected. Warnings are announced by the county. For more information, visit Fire Safe Marin.

\Can I use the grill or fire pit during a Red Flag Warning?

No. Only camping stoves can be used in the campground during red-flag warnings. The fire pits and outdoor grills CANNOT BE USED when Red Flag Warnings are in affect.

Is the campground open during a Red Flag Warning?

Yes, but no campfires or grills are allowed.

 

PETS & SERVICE ANIMALS

Where can I take my dog or other pet at China Camp? 

Pets are allowed in the campground, but must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet with the leash tied or held at all times.  Dogs are NOT allowed on any of the trails and must be kept inside tents or vehicles at night.

Can I take my dog to a picnic spot or to the beach?

Yes. Pets are also allowed at developed picnic areas and China Camp Village/Beach, except at Miwok Meadows, which is off-limits for all pets. Pets must be on leash at all times, unless they’re in the water swimming. 

Can I take my dog/pet on the trails?

No. For the safety of wildlife and your pet(s), China Camp trails are off-limits to all pets except horses and licensed service dogs

My pet is a support animal. Can I hike with it?

No, trails are not open to support animals. Only licensed service animals are allowed on trails. Support animals must follow all rules and restrictions for non-support pets.

Can I bring my pet camping?

Pets are allowed in our campground but only if on a 6-foot leash or in a pet carrier, or in your closed tent. a leash. Dogs and other pets may not access any trails from the campground, and are forbidden from trails throughout the park. 

 

CAMPING 

Where can I camp at China Camp?

Back Ranch Meadows Campground has 30 walk-in, tent-only campsites, plus two hike/bike-in site and one large group camping area. More details on fees, check-in times, campfires, and other information can be found here.

We have more than one car driving to the campground. Do I need an extra parking pass?

Yes. Each camp reservation comes with one parking pass (for one vehicle). Additional parking passes can be purchased, with credit card, ATM card, or cash at the electronic pay station near the entrance kiosk or with cash or credit card at the campground. Cost is $5/day per vehicle, and covers parking at the campground and any other fee area in the park; it also covers hiking fees. 

Is there potable water at the campground and group campsite?

Yes.

Can I have a campfire in the en-route/group camping area?

Yes. There is one large fire ring in the group area. Fires not allowed on red-flag days (signs will be posted).

How long can I tent-camp at China Camp?

During high season (April through October) there is a 7-day stay limit; otherwise a 15-day stay limit. The two hike/bike sites have a 2-night maximum.

Can I camp in my RV camping in the regular campground parking lot?

No. RV camping is NOT allowed in the campground parking lot. Self-contained RV overnight (pass through) camping for one RV is available on a first-come, first-serve basis in the en-route (group) camping area, but only when the area isn’t reserved. Please note the following:

  • RV must be self-contained (no outdoor grill, fire pit, or picnic table.
  • No use of group site facilities, including the fire ring and the picnic tables.
  • No electrical or water hook-up; vehicle must be self-contained with a permanently installed gray-water holding tank.
  • One night only
  • Check-in: 6 p.m.; check-out 9 a.m.
  • Fee: $35
  • Nearest RV-accessible campground: Olema Ranch Campground, 10155 State Highway 1, Olema.

Are there hot showers at the campground?

Hot showers are available at two of the campground restrooms. Cost is 50 cents (quarters only) for first 5 minutes; use more quarters to purchase additional minutes.

Can I bring my pet camping?

Yes, but your pet must be on a 6-foot fixed leash at all times, unless it is inside your tent or in a pet carrier. Pets are allowed in the campground and the parking lot but not on trails.

How many people can camp at one site?

Up to 8 people can camp in a single site. 

How far do I have to walk to my campsite?

Distances from the parking lot range from 50 to 300 yards. There may be a slope to get to your site, depending on location. Sites 1-15 are on the “low” trail; sites 16-30 are up a small hill.

Are there carts for carrying gear?

Complementary rolling garbage cans, dedicated for portaging gear only, are available at the campground.

Is there cell reception at the campground?

Reception is spotty. Try the entrance kiosk for best reception. If there is an emergency and you must contact someone, please see the Camp Host on duty.

Where can I store my food?

China Camp is a state park, and it protects lots of wildlife. Some of these animals, especially raccoons, like to eat the same things we do—bread, crackers, cheese, etc. Please be sure to store all food securely in the food lockers at each site, or keep them in a locked cooler or in your car. Note that food lockers do not have locks.

Is there a quiet time at the campground?

Yes, quiet time is 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

What if I need to get in or out after 9 p.m. or before 8 a.m.?

After hours, the gate at the entrance to the campground is closed but not locked. We ask that if you need to go in our out the campground after hours that you are respectful of all other campers. 

 

DISABLED ACCESS

Do I get a discount if I have disabled license plates?

We don’t have discounts on our $5 parking fee, but every parking lot has reserved handicapped parking spots. Disabled persons with a California State Parks “Disabled Discount Pass” can get a 50% discount on camping fees.

Are there handicap-accessible campsites at Back Ranch Meadows Campground?

Campsites 1 and 2 are designated for handicap use and can be reserved in advance. Campers must have a handicap placard or card to use these sites. After 6 pm, they are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Do you have handicap-accessible trails in the park?

Turtle Back Nature Trail follows specifications set by the Americans with Disabilities Act. The gently rolling trail is smooth and wide, and can accommodate wheelchairs, walkers, and strollers. No bikes are allowed on Turtle Back.

 

FIELD TRIPS &

SCHOOL GROUPS

How do I schedule a field trip? Is there a fee?

We are delighted to host kids’ events in the park. To request access for your organized activity, and for additional information, contact us. 

 

CLOSEST POOL &

SPORTS FACILITIES

Does China Camp State Park have a swimming pool or other sports facilities or equipment?

No. There are developed community parks in the area that have a pool and/or other facilities. Please see individual sites for details.

 

DRONES

Can I fly a drone in or over the park?

No. It is illegal to use a drone anywhere in or over China Camp State Park and its adjacent tidal wetlands.

 

SMOKING

Can I smoke in the park?

No, smoking is forbidden throughout the park. 

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Still have a question? Call (415) 456-0766, or send it to info@friendsofchinacamp.org.j

For more information, see the California State Parks FAQ page.California State Parks FAQ page.

Photo: STEVE ZIMAN