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Golden Gate National Recreation Area

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Golden Gate National Recreation Area ©: Rodefeld via Flickr

Overview:

The Golden Gate National Recreation Area is a U.S. National Recreation Area administered by the National Park Service surrounding the San Francisco Bay area. It is one of the most visited units of the National Park system in the United States and for good reason. The park is not one continuous location, but rather a collection of areas that includes several areas of San Francisco. It contains famous tourist attractions like Muir Woods National Monument, Alcatraz, and the Presidio of San Francisco.

History:

Established on October 27, 1972. Designated a Biosphere Reserve in 1988.

When to Visit:

This West Coast destination is a perfect getaway for those looking for warmer weather. The area has many sites to visit and different Visitor Centers depending on what you want to visit. Use the following operating hours to help you determine the best time to plan your visit:

  • Alcatraz: Open year-round. ClosedThanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day.
  • Four Point: Open Friday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Monday to Thursday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day.
  • Marin Headlands Visitor Center: Open all year 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
  • Muir Woods Visitor Center: Open all year 8:00 a.m. to sunset

Getting There:

For visitors flying into the area, San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose International Airports service the San Francisco Bay Area. If you are relying on public transportation, there are various bus lines that run to and through the park. To get the best information on transit to the park areas you are interested in visiting, check online.

For drivers, Golden Gate NRA can be reached by Highways 1, 101 and 280 from the north and south San Francisco Bay Area, and by Highway 880 from the East Bay.

Fees/Permits:

There are different fees and permits required depending on what activity you are looking for. Please use the following information to help you determine cost:

  • Alcatraz Island: Prices vary with tour package. Call (415) 981-ROCK or check online.

  • Kirby Cove Campground - $25/Night; Picnic Area - $35/Day. Make a reservation for Kirby Cove online or call 877-444-6777. Contact the Marin Headlands Visitor Center (415) 331-1540 between 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., 7 days/week, if you have questions or wish to make a reservation at other GGNRA campgrounds.

  • Muir Woods National Monument: $5/adult; free/children 15 years old or younger. There is also a $20 Muir Woods Annual Pass which is a great option should you want to make multiple visits in a year.

  • Other Golden Gate National Recreation Area Sites are free.

  • Special Park Uses: Some outdoor activities require a special use permit, such as weddings or filming. Check online for more details.

Things to Do:

The national recreation area offers visitors a number of activities to choose from, including hiking, bicycling, horseback riding, swimming, fishing, wildflower viewing, and a variety of interpretive programs. One of the latest activities offered is kite-boarding off the Crissy Field shoreline, and hang gliding off the cliffs at Fort Funston.

One of the most popular things to do is visiting Alcatraz where visitors can join ranger-led programs, use self-guiding brochures, or take an audio tour of the cellhouse to learn about this historic island. Daily ferry service for Alcatraz originates at Pier 41, Fisherman’s Wharf but keep in mind that Alcatraz tickets frequently sell out as much as one week in advance.

Accommodations:

There is one luxury hotel, two youth hostels, and four campgrounds in the park. There are also numerous lodging possibilities close to the park, ranging from 5-star hotels to budget motels.

Fort Baker hosts the newest luxury resort hotel in a National Park, the Cavallo Point Lodge. This environmentally sustainable hotel includes conference facilities, restaurant, and spa.

Hostelling International offers affordable accommodations in the park, including the Marin Headlands Hostel and the SF Fisherman's Wharf Hostel at Fort Mason.

To learn more about campgrounds in the park, call the Marin Headlands Visitor Center at (415) 331-1540 or check online.

Check with the San Francisco Convention and Visitor Bureau for further information about lodging surrounding the park in the San Francisco area. Call the bureau at (415) 391-2000.

Pets:

Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) is conducting a planning process to decide how best to manage dog walking in the park. For an extensive list on where dog walking is permitted, check online.

Areas of Interest Outside the Park:

Fort Point National Historic Site: Constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers between 1853 and 1861 to prevent entrance of a hostile fleet into San Francisco Bay.

San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park: Includes the historic fleet at Hyde Street Pier, the Maritime Museum, and the Maritime Museum Library.

Muir Woods National Monument: Includes a virgin stand of coastal redwoods, named for John Muir, writer and conservationist.

Contact Info:

By Mail:
Golden Gate National Parks
Building 201, Fort Mason
San Francisco,CA 94123-0022

Phone:
Pacific West Region Information Center:
(415) 561-4700
Special Event & Commercial Film Permits:
(415) 561-4300

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