Camping at Back Ranch Meadows Campground by Harriot Manley

Camping at China Camp State Park

Enjoy tent-only campsites in lush woods on the edge of San Pablo Bay


Situated at the northwest end of China Camp State Park, Back Ranch Meadows Campground offers walk-in, tent-only camping in a vibrant natural setting. Located on the edge of San Pablo Bay, roughly 30 minutes north of San Francisco, the campground offers a peaceful retreat surrounded by lush forests, meadows, and vibrant salt marshes, all accessed by a well-maintained trail network open to hikers and mountain bikers. Reservations are accepted 48 hours or more in advance. (Non-reserved sites may be available; see details below.)


The campground is located off North San Pedro Road in San Rafael. Parking is at the end of a 1/3-mile paved access road. All of our tent-only sites require a short walk (50 to 300 yards, depending on the campsite) from the parking area. Note: Two sites closest to the parking lot are reserved for disabled visitors; placard required. 

Campers can choose from 33 spacious walk-in, tent-only sites. Glade Sites (1-15) are on the south side of the campground, accessed via a fairly flat trail heading slightly left from the parking lot. Hill Sites (16-30) are reached via a short, sloping path, heading right from the parking lot. There are also two hike- or bike-in sites (details below). Carts are available for portaging gear.

Types of sites
Reserved sites

$35 per night (plus processing fees)

Bookings for specific sites are accepted year-round.  Reserve sites no less than 48 hours in advance through; 800.444.7275.

Non-reserved sites

$35 per night

While reservations are strongly advised, particularly on weekends, unreserved sites are sometimes available, particularly midweek and during winter. Spring and summer are the busiest times of the year. Any sites not previously reserved are available on a first-come, first-serve basis and can only be reserved one night at a time. Check with the Ranger Station in advance (415.456.0766), but note that availability is not guaranteed upon arrival.

Hike/bike sites

$5 per person per night

Hike/bike sites are only available to people who bicycle or backpack to the campground from outside China Camp. Sites cannot be reserved in advance. Two sites are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

En route Camping

Campsites are tent-only, meaning overnight car camping in one’s vehicle in the parking lot is not allowed for sites 1-30. However, the park offers a one-night-only en route lot that is available only on the condition that our group campsite has not been reserved.

Campsite features

Picnic table, wooden food locker, potable water, and fire ring. Firewood $8 per bundle. Available for sale from 5 p.m to 7 p.m. daily except on Red Flag Warning days, when use of campfire rings and outdoor grills is NOT ALLOWED. Tent only, no hammocks allowed. Potable water, flush toilets, and coin-operated showers are available on site.


Maximum of 8 persons per campsite.


Campers can arrive from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Check-out is noon. The gate at Back Ranch Meadows Campground entrance, accessed via North San Pedro Road, is locked from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m.


One vehicle per site; additional vehicles must pay a $5 per day parking fee (payable on-site).

Maximum Stay

Campers may stay no more than 7 consecutive days in the campground, and no more than 30 total nights in a calendar year.


Firewood is available for sale ($8 per bundle) from camp host, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily.  Firewood will not be sold on high-risk Red Flag Warning days, as posted in the campground and throughout the park.


Pets are allowed on a 6-foot leash in the campground and paved areas only. Pets may be off-leash inside tents. No pets are allowed on trails.

Wildlife alert

Raccoons and other animals are very active in the campground. Store all food in on-site lockers, a lockable cooler, your car, or other secure containers.

Youth Camping

All campers under age 14 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Campers ages 14 to 17 may camp without a parent or guardian, but only with special permission. Please print out and submit these forms. They must be received at least 7 days prior to camping dates. Scan and send to, or mail to Friends of China Camp, attn: Campground Manager, 101 Peacock Gap Trail, San Rafael, CA 94901. Youths should keep a copy at their campsite.

More info

Hammocks and generators are not allowed. More rules and regulations throughout the park are available here. For additional questions, contact us.