FAQs

Welcome to the California Department of Parks and Recreation, also known as California State Parks.

Our frequently asked questions (FAQs) help you find the information you need faster than emailing or calling us. If you cannot find the answer to your question here, please feel free to connect with us.

Thank you for loving California’s natural and cultural resources.


Accessibility | BBQ | Beaches | Bikes | Campfires | Camping | Day-Use | Dogs 


 Drones |  Elephant Seal Tours | Fees | Fun Facts | General Rules | Parking CitationsPasses


Permits For Special Events  | Photography/Film | Reservations | Weapons 


How can I find out about accessibility in state parks for people with disabilities?
Accessibility improvements are ongoing at California State Parks. Many of our parks have facilities such as campsites, restrooms and visitor centers that have been designed to meet the varying abilities of park visitors.

If you have questions or a complaint about the accessibility of a specific park or our accessibility policies, please visit the “Accessible Parks for All" webpage. You may also contact us directly with your questions or complaint by sending an email to access@parks.ca.gov or by calling (916) 445-8949 (711, TTY Relay Service).

Can I have a fire, charcoal barbecue or gas stove on a beach or at a park?
Rules vary by beach or park. In some areas, environmental or safety concerns preclude barbecues or gas stoves. It is best to check ahead with the state beach or park you wish to visit. You can find contact information for individual park units on the "Find a California State Park" webpage.

Note: A number of state parks and beaches are impacted from the numerous wildfires burning across California. For the latest updates on park closures, please visit www.parks.ca.gov/incidents. State Parks continues to work with local officials on a phased and regionally driven approach to increase access at park units where compliance with state and local public health ordinances can be achieved during COVID-19. Visit www.parks.ca.gov/FlattenTheCurve to find out how the department has increased access across the State Park System and what remains closed. 

Are dogs allowed on trails or beaches?
In general, dogs are not allowed on trails or beaches, with a few exceptions. Dogs must always be on a maximum 6-foot leash. For more information by district and park, check the “Visiting State Parks with Your Dog” webpage.

Service dogs, as defined by the Americans with Disability Act, are allowed throughout our parks. For more information on service dogs in state parks read our “Service Animals in State Parks” brochure and “Visiting State Parks with Your Dogwebpage.

Can I have a fire, charcoal barbecue or gas stove on a beach?
Rules vary by beach. In some areas, environmental or safety concerns preclude beach barbecues or gas stoves. It is best to check ahead with the state beach you wish to visit. You can find contact information for individual parks on the "Find a California State Park" webpage.

Are electric bikes allowed in California’s state parks?
California State Parks is working to provide guidance to our park managers on how to enforce electric bicycles (e-bikes) at our 280 park units across the state. Each park is unique so a statewide policy on e-bikes is not feasible. Currently, trails in the State Park System are open to pedestrians only unless otherwise designated by the park’s superintendent for equestrian or cycling. This would be on a trail-by-trail basis, which we understand can be confusing to visitors. We are working to provide more specific guidelines that will provide the public access, where feasible, to our bike trails but at the same time, protect California’s beautiful, iconic landscapes.

Note: A number of state parks and beaches are impacted from the numerous wildfires burning across California. For the latest updates on park closures, please visit www.parks.ca.gov/incidents. State Parks continues to work with local officials on a phased and regionally driven approach to increase access at park units where compliance with state and local public health ordinances can be achieved during COVID-19. Visit www.parks.ca.gov/FlattenTheCurve to find out how the department has increased access across the State Park System and what remains closed. For current guidelines on camping during COVID-19, please visit this webpage.

How do I make a camping reservation?
Reservations can be made online through ReserveCalifornia at www.ReserveCalifornia.com or (800) 444-PARK (7275). Camping and lodging inventory becomes available each day for a period of six months in advance.

If this is your first time making a reservation, please be advised that our parks are loved by many within and outside the state of California. Due to demand, reservations for popular locations such as coastal beaches and campgrounds or cabins in the redwoods can be booked months in advance. Plan, do your research and have alternate parks in mind in case your first choice is booked. One alternative is to visit a fully booked park during the day but have lodging elsewhere nearby.

How do I cancel my camping reservation?
Cancellations can be made via www.ReserveCalifornia.com or by calling the Customer Call Center at (800) 444-PARK (7275). Detailed information about the cancellation policy can be found here.

What are some helpful camping tips for year-round camping enjoyment?
  • For reservation sites, plan ahead.
  • Determine where you want to camp and be flexible.
  • Consider nonreservation sites, less busy days and less popular camps.
  • Remember the holiday rush. The closer you make a reservation to a holiday (Memorial Day, Fourth of July or Labor Day), the further north and inland you may need to go.
  • Consider cancellations. Check online periodically for cancellations or contact our Customer Call Center at (800) 444-PARK (7275). While cancellations are rare and no waiting lists are available at the moment, cancellations do occur.
  • Consider visiting the park for a day.
  • Visit us in April, May, September and October. This is considered our “shoulder season.” It is a good time to enjoy California’s state parks as the weather during these months is usually good.
  • Please leave the campsite in good condition. The camper who follows you will appreciate it. Remember to pack it in, pack it out.

Detailed information on these tips can be found hereCamping safety tips can be found here.

Can I buy firewood at the park?
All parks offer firewood for sale with proceeds benefiting the local park. Some parks are in quarantined regions and are required to ban the import of firewood to prevent the spread of tree disease and pests. For more information, click here.

Can I buy firewood at the park?
All parks offer firewood for sale with proceeds benefiting the local park. Some parks are in quarantined regions and are required to ban the import of firewood to prevent the spread of tree disease and pests. For more information, click here.

Can I have a campfire?
Campfires are usually allowed in provided fire rings at each campsite. Occasionally, during extreme fire conditions, open fires may be banned on short notice. Before arrival, call the park or check the park website at “Visit a Park” for information about fire bans during peak fire season.

Can I have a fire, charcoal barbecue or gas stove on a beach?

Rules vary by beach. In some areas, environmental or safety concerns preclude beach barbecues or gas stoves. It is best to check ahead with the state beach you wish to visit. You can find contact information for individual parks at "Find a California State Park."

For more information on safety and campfires, visit the “Campfire Safety Tips webpage.

 

What are the day-use fees for state parks?
There are vehicle day-use fees to enter most parks. Fees vary by park. If the kiosk is not open, you may need to self-register using an envelope at an “iron ranger” station or an automatic payment machine. It is free to visit a state park if you walk or bike in. You can see a list of day-use fees here.

Are dogs allowed on trails or beaches?
In general, dogs are not allowed on trails or beaches with a few exceptions. Dogs must always be on a maximum 6-foot leash. For more information by district and park, check the “Visiting State Parks with Your Dog” webpage.

Service dogs, as defined by the Americans with Disability Act, are allowed throughout our parks. For more information on service dogs in state parks, read our “Service Animals in State Parks” brochure and our “Visiting State Parks with Your Dogwebpage.

I have an FAA license, can I fly my drone in a California state park?
Drones are technically allowed in state parks, state beaches, state historic parks, state recreational areas and state vehicular recreation areas except where prohibited by a district superintendent’s posted order. However, most districts have posted orders banning drones as California State Parks works on a statewide policy. Superintendents can grant waivers from posted orders for scientific and academic research, media and other purposes. For more information about drone use, click here.

Elephant Seal Winter Tour Season – Ano Nuevo State Park
State Parks has chosen to suspend the winter tour season for the elephant seals at Año Nuevo State Park due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The safety of the public, staff and volunteers remains our top priority.

While in person tours are being suspended this winter, the department’s Parks Online Resources for Teachers and Students (PORTS) will be providing additional virtual school visits to accommodate schools who would normally come out on field trips during the winter. In addition, the park unit is planning a robust social media presence on its Facebook and Instagram pages with frequent updates, fun videos and seal facts. The park is looking to partner with both the Elephant Seal rookeries at Piedras Blancas and Point Reyes National Seashore to put out combined seal content.

Can I get married in a California state park?
Yes, but a permit is required even for a small group. Each park or region has an event/permit coordinator. To obtain contact information, please email us at info@parks.ca.gov. You can read additional information here.

What are the day use fees for state parks?
There are vehicle day-use fees to enter most parks. Fees vary by park. If the kiosk is not open, you may need to self-register using an envelope at an “iron ranger” station or an automatic payment machine. It is free to visit a state park if you walk or bike in. You can see a list of day use fees here.

What are the fees for annual and special use passes?
California State Parks offers several annual and special pass options. Fees, passes and where they are accepted can be found here.

What are some fun facts about California State Parks?
California has the second-largest park system in the world with 280 units and the largest state park system in the United States.

For more fun facts, such as where you can find the tallest tree in the world or the oldest continuously used Chinese Temple in California, click here.

Parking Citations issued by the California Department of Parks and Recreation are managed through a contract with Data Ticket Inc.

Citation payment or contestation is handled at www.citationprocessingcenter.com.

Visit the “Parking Citation Payment Options webpage for more information.

What are the fees for annual and special use passes?
California State Parks offers several annual and special pass options. Fees, passes and where they are accepted can be found here.

Do all state parks accept annual passes?
Annual passes are accepted by parks owned and operated by California State Parks. Annual passes are not accepted at state parks operated by federal or local government and private agencies or concessionaires. Information regarding where passes are accepted can be found here.

Do you accept the America the Beautiful pass?
California State Parks does not accept the America the Beautiful pass, nor do any other states or local parks. This pass provides entry to federal government lands only, including National Parks, U.S. Forest, and Bureau of Land Management areas.

For additional questions about state park passes, please email passinfo@parks.ca.gov or call (916) 653-8280.

Permits for Special Events (e.g., Weddings, Gatherings)

Note:Due to COVID-19, all approved events have been canceled. New applications for events are not being accepted at this time. 

Can I host a special event, such as a wedding or other type of gathering, in a California state park?
Yes, but a permit is required even for a small group. Each park or region has an event/permit coordinator. To obtain contact information, please email us at 
info@parks.ca.gov. For information specific to hosting a wedding in a state park, click here.

Can I scatter human remains in a state park?
Yes, with a permit issued by the district superintendent of the park you wish to scatter remains. Please email us your request at 
info@parks.ca.gov with the name of the park.

How do I get a permit to film or take commercial photographs in a California state park?
Permits are required to film, video or photograph for any commercial or potential commercial purpose in a state park. The initial permit is with the California Film Commission, which can be applied for online on the 
Commission's website. Commission staff will then help you coordinate with local state park staff for a second permit issued by the park. There may be fees to recover costs to state parks. For more information on film or photography in state parks, please click here.

How do I get a permit to film or take commercial photographs in a California state park?
Permits are required to film, video or photograph for any commercial or potential commercial purpose in a state park. The initial permit is with the California Film Commission, which can be applied for online on the Commission's website. Commission staff will then help you coordinate with local state park staff for a second permit issued by the park. There may be fees to recover costs to state parks. For more information on film or photography in state parks, please click here.

Note: A number of state parks and beaches are impacted from the numerous wildfires burning across California. For the latest updates on park closures, please visit www.parks.ca.gov/incidents. State Parks continues to work with local officials on a phased and regionally driven approach to increase access at park units where compliance with state and local public health ordinances can be achieved during COVID-19. Visit www.parks.ca.gov/FlattenTheCurve to find out how the department has increased access across the State Park System and what remains closed. For current guidelines on camping during COVID-19, please visit this webpage.

For your safety and the safety of others, please read the below camping guidelines State Parks has implemented to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the outdoors:

  • Plan Ahead – Prior to planning your next local camping adventure, visit the webpage of the park unit to find out if it is open, if camping is available and what new visitor guidelines are in effect. For example, fire rings, barbecues, camp stores, playgrounds and group picnicking facilities may not be available. Each park unit has its own guidelines, depending on county and local health orders.
  • Stay Local – Stay close to home to slow the spread of COVID-19. Do not travel if you are sick or if someone in your household has had coronavirus in the last two weeks.
  • Stay Safer at 6 feet – No matter the recreational activity, maintain a physical distance of 6 feet or more from others. Your camping party should include those within your immediate household.
  • Keep Clean – Be prepared by bringing soap/sanitizer. Not all restrooms will be open. If you are camping in an RV, please use the restrooms in your own unit. This will help reduce the use of the shared restrooms at campgrounds. Leave no trace—pack out all trash.
  • Stay Covered – If your county requires the use of face coverings, please wear one. It is recommended that you carry a mask in the outdoors in case you cannot maintain physical distancing from others while hiking or going into a public area.

For more helpful information in planning your future camping trip, please visit the “State Parks Begins Reopening Campgrounds” and the "State Parks COVID-19 Resource Center” webpages.

How do I make a camping reservation?
Reservations can be made online through ReserveCalifornia at 
www.ReserveCalifornia.com or (800) 444-PARK (7275). Camping and lodging inventory becomes available each day for a period of six months in advance.

If this is your first time making a reservation, please be advised that our parks are loved by many within and outside the state of California. Due to demand, reservations for popular locations such as coastal beaches and campgrounds or cabins in the redwoods can be booked months in advance. Plan, do your research, and have alternate parks in mind in case your first choice is booked. One alternative is to visit a fully booked park during the day, but have lodging elsewhere nearby.

How do I cancel my camping reservation?
Cancellations can be made via ReserveCalifornia online or calling the Customer Call Center at (800) 444-PARK (7275). Detailed information about the cancellation policy can be 
found here.

How can I make a reservation at Yosemite?
Yosemite is a national park and not part of the California State Park System. For more information on national parks in California, please visit 
here.

Can I take driftwood, plants, rocks, etc., from the parks?
In general, no. California State Parks is mandated to protect natural and cultural resources in the 280 state parks. The California Code of Regulations prohibits the removal of these items from parks with a few exceptions granted by permit from the district superintendent. These include gathering samples for scientific research, California Native American traditional cultural activities, small amounts of driftwood and hands and pans for gold mining only. Contact the park or district for information on permits for these activities 
here. (Pertinent State Regulations – 4301, 4306, 4307.)

If I have a Federal Aviation Administration license, can I fly my drone in a California state park?
Drones are technically allowed in state parks, state beaches, state historic parks, state recreational areas and state vehicular recreation areas except where prohibited by a district superintendent’s posted order. However, most districts have posted orders banning drones as California State Parks works on a statewide policy. Superintendents can grant waivers from posted orders for scientific and academic research, media and other purposes. For more information about drone use, 
click here.

Can I carry a concealed weapon in a state park if I have a Carrying Concealed Weapon (CCW) permit?
Possibly yes. The carrying and possession of firearms in California’s state parks is generally prohibited and is only allowed per Title 14 of the 
California Code of Regulations (CCR), Section 4313.

Exceptions to this regulation are granted in the California Penal Code Section 25900 pertaining to law enforcement and retired law enforcement personnel, and PC Section 26010 for citizens with Carry Concealed Weapon (CCW) permits. However, any restrictions placed on the CCW by the issuing agency would also be applicable in California’s state parks. For example, if the CCW is only valid in the CCW holder’s city of residence or county, it would not be valid in a state park unit located outside the city or county of the holder. Some CCWs also prohibit carrying in “parks” and this would include state park lands, if that is the case.

Are there rules and regulations I should be aware of before my visit?
Natural scenery, plants and animal life are the principal attractions of most state parks. They are integral parts of the ecosystem and natural community. As such they are protected by federal, state and park laws. Disturbance or destruction of these resources is strictly forbidden.

Fires are permitted only in facilities provided for this purpose. This is necessary to prevent disastrous fires. Portable stoves may be used in designated areas. It is the responsibility of every visitor to use extreme caution with any burning materials, including tobacco. All fireworks are prohibited.

Noise from engine driven and/or electric sources, which can disturb others, may be operated only between the hours 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. within state park units. Loud disturbing noise is prohibited at all times, as well as disturbing visitors who are asleep between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

For more key rules and regulations to protect our parks and visitors, click here.

What are the California Code of Regulations that governs state parks?
California Code of Regulations, Title 14, Divisions 3 and 4. For more information, 
click here.

What are the Codes (Statutes) for State Parks?
Public Resources Code Division 5, Section 5001-5873. For more information, 
click here.

Can you provide helpful camping tips for year-round camping enjoyment?
  • For reservation sites, plan ahead.
  • Determine where you want to camp and be flexible.
  • Consider non-reservation sites, less busy days and less popular camps.
  • Remember the holiday rush. The closer you make a reservation to a holiday (Memorial Day, Fourth of July or Labor Day), the farther north and inland you may need to go.
  • Consider cancellations. Check periodically online for cancellations or contact our Customer Call Center at (800) 444-PARK (7275). While cancellations are rare and no waiting lists are available at the moment, cancellations do occur.
  • Consider visiting the park for a day.
  • Visit us in April, May, September and October. This is considered our “Shoulder Season.” It is a good time to enjoy California’s state parks since the weather during these months is usually good.
  • Please leave the campsite in good condition. The camper who follows you will appreciate it. Remember to pack it in, pack it out.

Detailed information on these tips can be found here.

Can I take driftwood, plants, rocks, etc. from the parks?
In general, no. California State Parks is mandated to protect natural and cultural resources in the 280 state parks. The California Code of Regulations prohibits the removal of these items from parks with a few exceptions granted by permit from the district superintendent. These include gathering samples for scientific research, Native American traditional cultural activities, small amounts of driftwood, and "hands and pans" for gold mining only. Contact the park or district for information on permits for these activities here. (Pertinent State Regulations – 4301, 4306, 4307.)

Are there Rules and Regulations I should be aware of before my visit?
Natural scenery, plants and animal life are the principal attractions of most state parks. They are integral parts of the ecosystem and natural community. As such they are protected by federal, state and park laws. Disturbance or destruction of these resources is strictly forbidden.

Fires are permitted only in facilities provided for this purpose. This is necessary to prevent disastrous fires. Portable stoves may be used in designated areas. It is the responsibility of every visitor to use extreme caution with any burning materials, including tobacco. All fireworks are prohibited.

Noise from engine-driven and/or electric sources, which can disturb others, may be operated only between the hours of 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. within state park units. Loud disturbing noise is prohibited at all times, as well as disturbing visitors who are asleep between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

For more key rules and regulations to protect our parks and visitors, click here.

Are dogs allowed on trails or beaches?
In general, dogs are not allowed on trails or beaches with a few exceptions. If dogs are allowed, they must always be on a six-foot leash. For more information by district and park, click here.

Service dogs, as defined by the Americans with Disability Act, are allowed throughout our parks. For more information on service dogs in state parks read our brochure and our webpage.

Can I carry a concealed weapon in a state park if I have a Carrying Concealed Weapon (CCW) permit?
Possibly yes. The carrying and possession of firearms in California’s state parks is generally prohibited and is only allowed per Title 14 of the 
California Code of Regulations (CCR), Section 4313.

Exceptions to this regulation are granted in the California Penal Code Section 25900 pertaining to law enforcement and retired law enforcement personnel, and PC Section 26010 for citizens with Carry Concealed Weapon (CCW) permits. However, any restrictions placed on the CCW by the issuing agency would also be applicable in California’s state parks. For example, if the CCW is only valid in the CCW holder’s city of residence or county, it would not be valid in a state park unit located outside the city or county of the holder. Some CCWs also prohibit carrying in “parks” and this would include state park lands, if that is the case.

Can I get married in a California state park?
Yes, but a permit is required even for a small group. Each park or region has an event/permit coordinator. To obtain contact information, please email us at info@parks.ca.gov. For information specific to hosting a wedding in a state park, click here.