One of the best urban playgrounds out there, Angel Island State Park is hidden gem just a quick jaunt from San Francisco. Hop on a ferry from Pier 41 or Tiburon for camping, miles of hiking trails, and some of the best views in the Bay Area. Angel Island is a spectacular grass and woodland covered island—in fact, it’s the largest island in the San Francisco Bay. It offers a plethora of expansive views of the San Francisco skyline, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the surrounding Bay Area. Imagine unzipping your tent to views of sparkling city lights and golden sunrise hues. The island features great hiking and biking trails as well as many other interesting recreational opportunities, including Segway tours. Angel Island State Park truly is a Bay Area experience not to be missed.
Choose from 16 campsites divided into four distinct camping areas (East Bay, Ridge, Sunrise, and Kayak Camp), each with pit toilets and water nearby. From the Ridge sites, enjoy picturesque views of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge, but expect a bit of wind. Sites in the East Bay section are more protected. If you’re traveling with a larger group, the Sunrise sites may be a good fit, as the sites can be reserved individually or combined for groups up to 24 people. Kayak Camp is also group friendly, accommodating groups up to 20. Angel Island camping typically doesn’t offer much in the way of privacy, but with only 16 sites on the island, it’s likely that you won’t be battling crowds. Be sure to pack carefully for Angel Island camping trips—the walk to your campsite can be up to two miles!
Find serenity and adventure just a quick jaunt from San Francisco with a night of camping at Angel Island State Park. Begin your Angel Island...
After living in SF for over 4 years, I finally made it to Angel Island... on a Wednesday! Booking a site on the weekend can be close to impossible. I honestly don't know if I'll ever get a weekend spot, but I'm determined to keep my eye on sites as they open, up to 6 months in advance.
Since I was the only person camping on Wednesday, I explored every corner and nook of Angel Island. There literally is not a spot on the island that doesn't have an awesome view. Ridge sites 4,5 are killer, ridge site 6 is tucked away just a bit, but is only steps from that sweet view of the Bay Area. I'd love to come back and stay at any of the East Bay spots (scoped out a great spot for a hammock at EB site 3) and experience the sunrise from the other side of the island.
Upon hiking to the top of Mt. Livermore, I was surprised to find multiple picnicking platforms. These aren't marked on the trail map. If you hike to the top, bring a game or some grub and plan on chilling up there, the views are AMAZE.
I can't believe it took me so long to camp here! Though, due to booked weekends 6 months out, it makes sense. If you live in the area, take a lil' baycation, and visit during the week. Plus, when you have the island all to yourself you can do whatever the heck you want. ;) Sooo worth it!
East bay sites are the most private. The rest you'll have random hikers coming up or walking around throughout the day. Site 1 is the most private at the end, Site 2 is the most shaded. Site 3 has great views but not a lot of flat land for tents.
We reserved a weekend spot many months in advance and camped at Ridge Site #6 for two nights. It was magical!
Things to keep in mind: 1) Don't miss the ferry! There aren't many options so get there in plenty of time. 2) Bring layers! Our site was sheltered from the wind by the grove of trees and the old military bunker, but things cool off when the fog settles in! CAMPFIRES ARE NOT ALLOWED, so plan accordingly. 3) The raccoons are pesky and bold up there, so keep an eye on your food at all times.
The views are spectacular and there's something special about being one of the lucky ones left on the island when the last ferry leaves for the night. We'll be back!
Campsites fill up fast...like real fast! The first day of the month, 6 months before the date you want to camp, is when you want to book (make sense?) . Example: Call up February 1st in the morning if you are looking to book a site for August.
Campsite 4 has the best views of the Bay Bridge, San Francisco, and Golden Gate bridge. You see the whole view, nothing is blocking. It's also the highest of 4,5, and 6 campsite.
If taking the tram, sit on the right side. The tram goes counterclockwise so you will have an uninterrupted view if you sit on the rightmost seat.
The cafe has good food and beer, but avoid it during the first few minutes after a ferry arrives, when the lines can get long. Ten minutes later, your wait will be much shorter.
There are a couple of water fountains around the perimeter loop. No need to worry about running out of water.
Bring a few snacks, sunscreen, sunglasses, but also pack a warm layer...this is the Bay Area after all!
The water here is safe to drink, but pretty grim-tasting. You won't want to carry the extra weight so pack some powdered flavoring like Gatorade or Emergen-C.
Sites 7-8-9, the "Sunrise" sites, are windy as hell. The views are good of the east bay. I didn't get an actual sunrise as we were fogged in. Bring a bike for the upper fire trail, it's great.
Angel Island is truly a walk through time! Beginning with its earliest known inhabitants, the Coastal Miwoks, Angel Island was a seasonal hunting and gathering location for the local native tribes before it became a safe refuge and supply stop for Spanish explorers like Juan Manuel de Ayala, one of the first to map the San Francisco Bay.
The Island has also been a cattle ranch, immigration station, and military base.
From 1910 to 1940, the U.S. Immigration Station processed hundreds of thousands of immigrants, the majority from China. During World War II, Japanese, and German POWs were detained on the island before being sent to facilities farther inland.
Angel Island has over 150 years of military history. During the Civil War in 1863, the federal government established Camp Reynolds on the island to protect the Bay Area from rising threats of confederate sympathizers. With the outbreaks of WWI and WWII, thousands of troops both returning and embarking for conflicts around the world were processed through Angel Island. In the 1950’s and 1960’s, the Island saw its last military service as a home to a Nike missile base.
In 1954 the transition of Angel Island as a California State Park began. Starting with Ayala Cove on the western side of the Island, park visitors had the first opportunities to enjoy the beauty of this amazing Island. In the early 1960's the final departure of the military allowed the rest of Angel Island to become park lands and the rest is history!