Golden Gate National Recreation Area

Golden Gate National Recreation Area

Infobox_protected_area | name = Golden Gate National Recreation Area
iucn_category = V

caption =
locator_x = 4
locator_y = 77
location = San Francisco Bay Area, California, USA
nearest_city = San Francisco, California
lat_degrees = 37
lat_minutes = 47
lat_seconds = 00
lat_direction = N
long_degrees = 122
long_minutes = 28
long_seconds = 00
long_direction = W
area = 74,820 acres (302.8 km²)
established = October 27, 1972
visitation_num = 13,602,629
visitation_year = 2005
governing_body = National Park Service
The Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) is a U.S. National Recreation Area administered by the National Park Service that surrounds the San Francisco Bay area. It is one of the most visited units of the National Park system in the United States, with over 13 million visitors a year. It is also one of the largest urban parks in the world, with a size two-and-a-half times that of the consolidated city and county of San Francisco.

The park is not one continuous locale, but rather a collection of areas that stretch from northern San Mateo County to southern Marin County, and includes several areas of San Francisco. The park is as diverse as it is expansive; it contains famous tourist attractions such as Muir Woods National Monument, Alcatraz, and the Presidio of San Francisco. The GGNRA is also home to 1,273 plant and animal species, encompasses 59 miles (95 km) of bay and ocean shoreline and has military fortifications that span centuries of California history, from the Spanish conquistadors to Cold War-era Nike missile sites.

Golden Gate National Recreation Area is not synonymous with Golden Gate Park, which is an urban park located entirely within San Francisco and managed by the city.


The park was created thanks in large part to efforts to create it by Congressman Phillip Burton. In 1972, President Richard Nixon signed into law "An Act to Establish the Golden Gate National Recreation Area." The bill allocated $120 million for land acquisition and development. The National Park Service first purchased Alcatraz and Fort Mason from the U.S. Army. Then to complete the national park in the north bay, the Nature Conservancy purchased the land in the Marin Headlands that made up the failed development project called Marincello from the Gulf Oil Corporation. The Nature Conservancy then transferred the land to the GGNRA. These properties formed the initial basis for the park.

Throughout the next 30 years, the National Park service acquired land and historic sites from the U.S. Army, private landowners and corporations, incorporating them into the GGNRA. The acquisitions range from the historic Cliff House restaurant and Sutro Baths in San Francisco, to large and expansive forest and costal lands, such as Sweeney Ridge in San Mateo County and Muir Woods National Monument in Marin. Many decommissioned Army bases and fortifications were incorporated into the park, including Fort Funston, four Nike missile sites, The Presidio and Crissy Field. The latest acquisition by the National Park Service is Mori Point, a small parcel of land on the Pacifica coast.

In 1988, UNESCO designated the GGNRA and 12 adjacent protected areas the Golden Gate Biosphere Reserve.

Future expansion

In February 2005, Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced legislation in the United States Senate that would add 4,700 acres (19 km²) of natural land to the GGNRA in San Mateo County including a 4,076 parcel known as the Rancho Corral de Tierra. The property, located south of Pacifica and surrounding the communities of Moss Beach and Montara, is home to many diverse plant and animal species. The bill passed in the Senate, but still has to pass the House of Representatives and be signed into law.

Locations in the park

Marin County

* Fort Baker - Former Army post located on the northern side of the Golden Gate
* Headlands Center for the Arts - Set in artist-renovated military buildings in the Marin Headlands, Headlands Center for the Arts is an internationally renowned artist residency program that promotes the role of artists in society. Headlands Center for the arts has Public Programs, including performances, discussions and lectures, and its Project Space, an 1800 square foot work space with a rotating roster of artists, is open 5 days a week to the public.
* Marin Headlands - Includes Nike missile site SF-88, The Marine Mammal Center, Fort Cronkhite, Fort Barry, Rodeo Lagoon, Rodeo Beach, Muir Beach, Tennessee Valley and Gerbode Valley
* Muir Woods National Monument – Huge Coast Redwoods "(Sequoia sempervirens)" fill this forest, along with Coast Douglas-fir "(Pseudotsuga menziesii)", Bigleaf Maple "(Acer macrophyllum)", Tanbark Oak "(Lithocarpus densiflorus)", and California Bay Laurel "(Umbellularia californica)".
* Oakwood Valley - bordered by Marin City to the north and the Marin Headlands to the south, [] Oakwood Valley contains the largest untouched woodland of Coast Live Oak and California bay trees in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. [Hamlin, Jessie. (Oct. 17, 1999). San Francisco Chronicle. "Coming Up - What's New This Week: ART: Visions of Preservation" Sunday Datebook section, Page 11.]
* Olema Valley - 10 miles (16 km) of grassland and forest that stretch from Tomales Bay to Bolinas Lagoon
* Point Bonita Lighthouse - An active lighthouse maintained by the United States Coast Guard
* Stinson BeachShark-laden beach north of San Francisco and south of Bolinas Lagoon
* Muir Beach Overlook - A former Navy base-end station with a clifftop view of the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco, on State Route 1

Camping sites

* [ Camping Information for the GGNRA, includes updated map]
* Bicentennial Camp - Open year-round, free, three 2-person sites.
* Kirby Cove Camp - Open April 1 - Oct 31, $25 per site/night, four 10-person sites.
* Hawk Camp - Open year-round, free, three 4-person sites.
* Haypress Camp - Open year-round, free, five 4-person sites.
* Rob Hill Group Camp - Open year-round, free, five 4-person sites.

San Francisco

* Alcatraz Island – The infamous federal prison and the West Coast's first and oldest operating lighthouse.
* Camera Obscura - A historic building containg a device which projects a 360º image.
* China Beach - A small beach located north of the Sea Cliff district in San Francisco near the Presidio of San Francisco.
* The Cliff House - A historic restaurant first built in 1863, rebuilt following fires in 1894 and 1907.
* Crissy Field - A former airfield restored to a 100-acre (.40 km²) shoreline.
* Fort Funston - A former coastal fortification and Nike missile site SF-59L; now a popular hang gliding spot.
* Fort Mason - A former military base that now houses non-profit organizations and offers a variety of cultural activities.
* Fort Miley Military Reservation - A former military base that now holds a Veterans' Hospital and picnic areas.
* Fort Point National Historic Site - A fort at the southern base of the Golden Gate Bridge that formerly housed 126 cannons to protect the bay against invaders. Completed just in time for the Civil War, but never fired a shot in combat.
* Mile Rock - Historic lighthouse located at the southwestern edge of the Golden Gate
* Presidio of San Francisco – A former military reservation, site of Battery Chamberlin, one of the last remaining coastal defense "disappearing guns" on the U.S. West Coast, the San Francisco National Cemetery, Crissy Field, Fort Point and Baker Beach.
* Baker Beach – Birthplace of the Burning Man festival, a popular sunbathing spot that is clothing-optional at its northern end. Located at the southwestern corner of the Presidio.
* Ocean Beach - A popular surf spot on the western side of San Francisco.
* Lands End and Sutro Baths – Concrete ruins of an indoor swimming pool constructed in 1894 by former SF mayor Adolf Sutro dominate the southwest corner; walking the Coastal Trail will bring you to amazing views of the Marin Headlands and Golden Gate.

San Mateo County

* Milagra Ridge - 240 acre (1 km²) parcel of land that is home to several endangered species and Nike Missile Site SF-51L
* Sweeney Ridge – Location of where Spanish explorer Gaspar de Portolà discovered the San Francisco Bay and is home to several World War II lookout nests and pillboxes as well as Nike missile site SF-51C
* Phleger Estate - Part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail, this preserve features Coast Redwoods "(Sequoia sempervirens)" and other native plants
* Mori Point - The newest addition to the GGNRA, Mori Point is a small undeveloped parcel of land located in Pacifica


External links

* [ NPS Official Site for the Golden Gate National Recreation Area]
* [ Trails and Trailheads of the Marin Headlands]
* [ Official Site for the Presidio Trust]
* [ Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy] , a non-profit membership organization
* [ The Golden Gate Raptor Observatory] A non-profit focusing on raptor research and conservation in the GGNRA.
* [ The Marine Mammal Center] The largest rescue and rehabilitation center for marine mammals in the world, based in the Marin Headlands in the GGNRA.
* [ The Headlands Institute] A non-profit focusing on education in the GGNRA.
* [ The Point Bonita Lighthouse] History of one of the GGNRA's most scenic and historic places.
* [ 2008 GGNRA Endangered Species Big Year] A race against time to see and save each of the 33 endangered species found in the GGNRA.

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