ANGEL ISLAND STATE PARK
In the middle of San Francisco Bay sits Angel Island State Park, offering spectacular views of the San Francisco skyline, the Marin Headlands and Mount Tamalpais.
The island is also alive with history. Three thousand years ago the island was a fishing and hunting site for Coastal Miwok Indians. It was later a haven for Spanish explorer Juan Manuel de Ayala, a cattle ranch, and a U.S. Army post.
From 1910 to 1940, the island processed hundreds of thousands of immigrants, the majority from China. During World War II, Japanese, and German POWs were held on the island, which was also used as a jumping-off point for American soldiers returning from the Pacific. In the '50s and '60s, the island was home to a Nike missile base.
Today, there are two active Coast Guard stations - at Point Blunt and Point Stuart - on the island (these area are off limits). Angel Island became a State Park in 1954.
The movement to make the island into a public park got underway in 1947 and 1948, after the federal government declared it surplus property. A thorough study of the island's historical background was carried out by the National Park Service, and in 1954, after various delays, a number of citizens' groups managed to persuade the State Park Commission to acquire about 37 acres surrounding Ayala Cove. Meanwhile, the US Army had selected the island as a site for a Nike missile launching facility and radar control station. Despite this partial re-occupation of the island by the army, additional acreage above the cove was acquired by the State in 1958, and the mountain top itself was re-christened Mount Caroline Livermore, in honor of the dedicated Marin County conservationist who led the campaign to create Angel Island State Park.
In 1962 the Nike missile base on the south side of the island was deactivated, and the army once again left the island. In December of that year, the entire island was turned over to the State of California for park purposes -- with the single exception of the unmanned Coast Guard stations on Point Blunt and Point Stuart, which continue in active operation to this day.
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There are no lifeguards, and swimming can be hazardous because of the very strong currents that run past the island with each change of tide.
The beaches at Quarry Point and Ayala Cove are both sandy and protected from the afternoon breezes that so often blow in from the ocean through the Golden Gate. Quarry Beach is especially pleasant for sunbathing. There are no lifeguards, and swimming can be hazardous because of the very strong currents that run past the island with each change of tide. The water at Perle's Beach is considerably rougher, and the beach is more exposed to wind and weather. The view, however, is spectacular, and Perle's Beach is a delightful place for walking and general beachcombing.
Angel Island State Park is located near Alameda, Albany and Belvedere Tiburon
Foot trails and fire roads circle the entire island, and climb to the 788-foot-high summit of Mount Caroline Livermore. Special caution should be used around the historic buildings, and in the vicinity of the bluffs, which tend to erode easily, and provide unreliable footing. The main trails are well marked, and are designed to avoid most hazards, including the poison oak that is native to the region. Bicycles can be used on the island-circling system of main roads, and can be brought to the island on the ferryboats. Foot trails and the road to Mount Livermore are closed to bicycles for safety and resource protection. A concessionaire operates a snack bar, bike rentals, and limited tram service during the summer, and by special arrangement during the rest of the year.
A majority of the detention barracks are shown by guided tour only. Room 105 on the first floor will be open for self-guided tours when staff is available. The US Immigration Grounds is open to the public during park hours 8am-Sunset daily. Visitors are encouraged to view the interpretive displays on the Grounds.
Weekend tour reservations are still available for groups of 10 or more from April through the end of October. Please see schedule below and email [email protected]
for reservations. Groups of less than ten can purchase tour tickets on a first come, first served basis at the Cove Cafe on Angel Island. Tours are not recommended for children under 10.
Ferry schedules are subject to change and not all ferry service can accommodate every tour time, check the tour time and ferry schedule carefully- contact the ferry company for details.
State Park Volunteers provide programs at the islands historic sites on most Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from May through October. The volunteers also conduct special tours for schools, clubs and other groups. For tour schedules and reservations, call the park.
A cafe, tram tours, and bike rentals are available seasonally (visit http://www.angelisland.com/ for schedule).
The Angel Island Company (a park concessionaire) will be operating Segway tours this year on the island. Tour prices are by a per person basis and limited to people 16 years or older. The cafe will also host a barbequed oyster bar and outdoor cantina at the Cove Cafe, a new and tasty treat to the visitors of Angel Island.
NOTE: Personal Segways are NOT PERMITTED on the island, unless it is being used as an assistance device for a disabled person. Segway rentals are available for guided tours only.
The trams run regularly scheduled one-hour tours with an audio program including information on the history of the island.
Private boats can use the boat slips or mooring buoys at Ayala Cove; day and overnight fees are collected. Mooring buoys can be used overnight. Paid overnight boaters may use the island with their dingy only until 10:00 PM.
Dock area and finger piers are closed at sunset. After sunset private boats must anchor offshore or on mooring buoys in Ayala Cove.
Groups can reserve the picnic areas and other camping facilities on the island by calling 1-800-444-7275.
Access to the Island is by private boat or public ferry from San Francisco, Tiburon and seasonal service from Oakland and Alameda. There is limited weekday ferry service to Angel Island during the winter. (check with ferry provider)Latitude/Longitude: 37.8642 / -122.4308
Bicycles can be brought to the island on the ferry and used on the island's main roads. Bikes can also be rented seasonally. Dogs are not allowed on the island, service animals excepted. Roller skates, roller blades, skateboards, and scooters are prohibited. Bring camp stove or charcoal, no wood fires allowed. Night travel after sunset on the island is prohibited in some areas for park security and public safety.