Golden Gate National Park Conservancy
Things to Know Before You Come
There are several things to know about the
Golden Gate National Parks before you
The park is surrounded on three sides by
the metropolitan San Francisco Bay
Area. Except for its western edge—the
Pacific Ocean—the park is practically
surrounded by a vibrant and diverse urban
area. Over 7 million people live within an
hour’s drive of the
park. Accommodations—from five-star hotels to youth hostels—abound. So do
restaurants of every variety. If you find that you’ve forgotten something for your visit to
the park, anything you need can be purchased once you arrive in the Bay Area.
What to Expect
The park is made up of many distinct areas. Unlike many national park areas, there is no
single entrance into the Golden Gate National Parks. There are also a huge variety of
natural and cultural resources and different ecological zones that will interest almost
Many Golden Gate destinations can be reached by public transportation, by bicycle or on
foot, but a car is required to reach many other areas. All of the park’s San Francisco sites
can be reached by bus or bike, or by foot power. Access to destinations in Marin and San
Mateo counties is easiest by car. Tour buses visit many San Francisco sites and Muir
Woods in Marin County. Alcatraz is reached by ferry from near San Francisco’s
Most Golden Gate sites can be visited free of charge. There are few fees to visit Golden
Gate destinations. Muir Woods charges an entrance fee, and Alcatraz is only accessible
by a concession boat for which there is a fee. But every other Golden Gate destination
can be visited free of charge.
While not as dramatic as in some parts of the country, there are nevertheless distinct
seasons in the San Francisco Bay Area. The park changes character throughout the year,
and some activities are confined to certain periods.
The winter is characterized by occasional rain, cool weather, and overcast skies
punctuated by brilliant sunshine. California gray whales migrate along the coast toward
their wintering grounds in the lagoons of Baja California.
In the spring, winter many of the park trees and flowers that were dormant through the
winter bloom forth usually starting in late March or early April. Wildflower displays are
best in April, May and June.
By July, summer fog begins to predominate in most coastal areas of the park. Still, the
grasses and plants that are brilliantly green in late winter and spring have now turned to
the golden brown and muted grays so characteristic of California in the summer.
You can learn new skills, teach others and stay active and involved. Volunteers at Golden
Gate National Recreation Area, Muir Woods National Monument, and Fort Point
National Historic Site help present the diverse resources of one of America's most
popular National Parks to today's visitors, and help preserve these precious resource for
future generations. Volunteers at Golden Gate play a vital role in almost all aspects of
Collecting data on birds of prey at the premier
hawk watching site on the west coast.
Designing and conducting information programs
for the general public and school children.
Removing non-native plants, growing native
plants, and working in one of the park's nurseries.
Restoring historic structures such as a World War
II barracks or a mess hall.
Working with park scientists to protect
endangered species like the mission blue
butterfly and peregrine falcon.
Volunteer opportunities at Golden Gate NRA are as diverse as the natural and cultural
resources of the park. History buffs, amateur naturalists, artists, students, gardeners and
many more people have found a place to share their skills at Golden Gate. Each
volunteer's contribution makes a big difference!
Golden Gate National Recreation Area is a gem of the Bay Area. The park includes an
array of resources unparalleled in the National Park System. Stunning forests, creeks,
ridges and beaches. Hundreds of miles of trails. Rare plant and animal species. One of the
most important collections of historic buildings in the country. And world renowned
destinations like Alcatraz and Muir Woods, as well as lesser known but equally
remarkable places. It is a park like no other.
Do you see your dream job? Do you want to know more about a job at GGNRA? If you
have special skills or want to learn some, give us a call. All volunteers receive orientation
and training. Come and join us!
Things to Do
Whatever you are looking for in a national park, chances are Golden Gate has it. There
are so many trails, historic structures, natural areas, and public programs in the Golden
Gate National Park that the hardest thing to do is decide which one to try.
- Want to watch a sunset? There are countless places in the park to watch the sun
drop below the horizon across the vast Pacific Ocean.
-Is a family hike on your agenda? Pick from dozens of options, from a stroll to an
-Want to learn about the how the U.S. Army defended the Bay from attack?
Check out the coastal gun batteries in the park up and down the coast in Marin,
San Francisco and San Mateo County.
-Do you love wild flowers There are spectacular displays of wildflowers and
native plants in many locations in the park.
-Do you have the skills and desire to test yourself on some extreme sports? Try
the new sport of kite-boarding off the Crissy Field coastline, or get airborne in a
hang glider off Fort Funston.
-Want to roll up your sleeves and work to protect park resources? Join one of the
many volunteer stewardship teams that restore natural areas in the park.
An indispensable resource is Guide to the Parks, published by the Golden Gate National
Parks Conservancy. And be sure and visit or call one of the park’s visitor centers or
Location Phone Number
Park Headquarters and Information Center (415) 561-4700
Alcatraz (415) 561-4900
Muir Woods (415) 331-2596
Marin Headlands (415) 331-1540
Presidio (415) 561-4323
Crissy Field (415) 561-7761 or 561-3040
Fort Point (415) 561-1693 or 561-1373
Golden Gate National Recreation Area was established by Congress in 19721 as part of a
movement known as “Parks to the People.” The park has grown into the largest national
park unit in an urban area in this country, and includes under its management two
additional NPS units—Fort Point NHS and Muir Wood NM. The park’s lands are located
in three counties—Marin, San Francisco, and San Mateo. Upwards of 20 million people
per year visit this remarkable park, located in the midst of a highly diverse metropolitan
area of 7 million people.
The park includes world-renowned visitor
destinations such as Alcatraz Island and Muir
Woods, as well as many other destination of
regional and national import such as the
Crissy Field, the Presidio, Marin
Headlands, Stinson Beach, Fort Mason,
Ocean Beach, Fort Funston, Sweeney
Ridge, and Mori Point. One of the largest
collections of historic buildings of any national
park can be found in the park, along with dozens
of plants and animal species that are accorded state or federal protected status. The park
is part of the United Nations-designated Golden Gate International Biosphere Reserve.
Partnership is one of the watchwords of the park, with a number of outstanding nonprofit
organizations working with the park to make available a wide variety of programs. The
Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy is the official support organization for the park,
providing an extraordinary level of funds and assistance each year.
The park operates under Federal, Department of the Interior, and National Park Service
policies and guidelines, in accordance with a General Management Plan (GMP) which
was first published in 1980. The park GMP is currently undergoing revision to reflect
new lands and responsibilities added since the park was established.
Park management includes a General Superintendent, Deputy General Superintendent,
and a number of operating and administrative divisions. The park’s budget includes
annual federal appropriations; capital and special purpose project funding, fee funds, and
donated funds. Park staffing is augmented by a high level of volunteerism, generally
exceeding 350,000 hours of volunteer service per year.
Presidio Crissy Field Fort Point
San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose International Airports service the San Francisco
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.
3. 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, refer to the public transit
information site: www.511.org