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

NOTICE: Some sites at the Back Ranch Meadows Campground will be closed Sunday through Thursday from November 14, 2022 until May 13, 2023 due to construction. Go to for available reservations.

Sites 1-15 will be closed for the duration of the construction. The group campsite will remain open 7 days a week. Campsites 16-30 are available for same-day walk-ups and reservations on Fridays and Saturdays during that time. Go to for available reservations. 


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), or visit the Camp Host on site at the campground, but note that availability is not guaranteed upon arrival.

Hike/bike sites

$5/person per night

Two sites are available for people who arrive by bicycle or on foot from outside China Camp. Sites cannot be reserved in advance. Sites are available on first-come, first-serve.

Group camping

$175 per night

A group campsite is available by reservation only for up to 50 tent campers and 8 vehicles.

En route camping

$35 per night

Sites for self-contained RVs only; no hookups, dump stations, or generators. First-come, first serve only; one night limit.

Campsite features

Picnic table, wooden food locker, potable water, and fire ring. Firewood $10 per bundle. Available for sale from 4 p.m to 6 p.m. daily except on Red Flag Warnings, when use of campfire rings and outdoor grills is NOT ALLOWED. Tents 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 closed from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m. daily.


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

Maximum Stay

April 1 through October 30: Campers may stay no more than 7 consecutive days. The rest of the year there is a 15-day limit with an annual limit of 30 days.


Firewood is available for sale ($10 per bundle) from camp host, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.  Firewood will not be sold during high-risk Red Flag Warnings, which are 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.

NOTICE: Some sites at the Back Ranch Meadows Campground will be closed Sunday through Thursday from November 14, 2022 until May 13, 2023 due to construction. The group site will remain open during the week. Go to for available reservations.

ADVISORY: December 3, 2023, 8am-2pm. Footrace beginning at Miwok Meadows. Expect increased foot traffic on Shoreline Trail, Oak Ridge Trail, and Bayview trail. Plan your trip to the park accordingly. See calendar for details.