Proponents of Prop 21 sought the levy to compensate for state funding cutbacks to California's state parks.
Conservationists and the tourism industry said maintaining and restoring the parks is vital to keep visitors coming to the Golden State.
Sixty parks were partially closed over the last year with another 90 suffering service reductions.
Opponents decried another fee foisted on citizens, especially one totally unrelated to the service.
Voters were rejecting the measure by a margin of 60 to 40, with 21 percent of precincts reporting.