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Angel Island State Park, San Francisco

(700+ reviews on the web)
State Park Nature / Park
The second largest island in San Francisco Bay, Angel Island State Park was once an immigration point and a quarantine island. Take a public ferry or private boats from the city to the island, where you can capture photos of the city across the bay. Along with biking and hiking trails, the park is home to the Angel Island Immigration Station, which operated from 1910 to 1940. The military used the island in the 19th century, when the entire island was known as Fort McDowell, the East Garrison. Arrange your visit to Angel Island State Park and discover more family-friendly attractions in San Francisco using our San Francisco itinerary builder.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • Excellent nature getaway only a ferry ride from Pier 41. There are commanding 180 degree views of downtown and the Golden Gate Bridge on one side of the island. I decided to walk the Perimeter Road, a...  more »
  • The only way to get Alcatraz tickets was to add Angel Island. Happy to say it was worth it. After touring Alcatraz it was time to sit back and enjoy the tram tour of the island. My teens liked the cha...  more »
  • This is the best day trip away from the city. You can get your tickets from Pier 41 with the Blue & Gold Fleet Ferry. When your in the island, I do recommend not to take the tram tours if your willing...  more »
Google
  • Excellent city viewing spot, hiking area, wIth picnic areas and a history tour at the immigration station (Ellis island of the west).
  • Great shot of history on this island! Love walking around the perimeter road - 5-mile loop. Very well maintained for both walking and biking. If you bike, watch out for that one big hill on the south side, though! Can also take several dirt paths to the top for 360-degree views of the bay - awesome vantage point! Nice deli in the cove with covered picnic tables outside in summer and warm weekends in the winter - live music on summer weekends. Lots of picnic areas outside the very interesting (small) visitor's center - some with charcoal grills. Bring your own charcoal. Come by ferry from SF or Tiburon, or bring your own boat and dock for $15 day use only (no overnight docking) or $30 for mooring balls per night. The mooring balls are new - no more tires with cages!
  • When I was a teacher in Oakland I would take my class to Angel Island for field trips. The kids loved that island. Lots of history and great views of the Bay area.
  • This place is wonderful for camping and also exploring. It is rich in history (both military base and former immigration station are worth a visit) and most of all the views of the city and the bridges cannot be beat. Highly recommended!
  • 10,000 years ago, "Angel Island was connected to the mainland" but it was cut off by the rise in sea levels at the last ice age. 2,000 years ago, the island was a fishing and hunting site for Coastal Miwok Indians. In 1775, Lt. Juan Manuel de Ayala, sailed the San Carlos into San Francisco Bay and anchored in what is now Ayala Cove. With his pilot, José de Cañizares, he developed one of the first maps of San Francisco Bay. They christened the island Isla de Los Angeles. In 1848, the first Chinese entered California and within a few years, thousands more came, lured by the promise of Gam Sann or "Gold Mountain." In 1863, during the Civil War, the U.S. Army established Camp Reynolds on Angel Island to protect San Francisco Bay. The island later became a garrison for infantry companies, including infantry serving in campaigns against American Indians in the West. In 1891, a quarantine station was opened in Ayala Cove (which at the time was known as Hospital Cove). In 1899, a Detention Camp was established on the east side of the Island, next to the quarry, to house returning troops who had been stricken with, or exposed to, contagious diseases. The first Army unit to occupy the camp was the 31st Volunteer Infantry, which had smallpox in its ranks. 1900s, the army designated the entire island as "Fort McDowell" and developed further facilities there, including what is now called the East Garrison or Fort McDowell. In 1905, construction of an Immigration Station began in the area known as China Cove. The facility, primarily a detention center, was designed to control the flow of Chinese into the country. In 1907, military personnel received their initial training on the island, then forward them to their assigned posts. In 1909, using military prisoners from the "Army Prison on Alcatraz" as labor, major building began on what had been the site of the Discharge Camp and Fort McDowell expanded into a Recruit Depot. From 1910 to 1940, the Angel Island Immigration Station processed approximately 1 million Asian immigrants entering into the United States, leading to it sometimes being referred to as "The Ellis Island of the West." During WWII, 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 1947, the army decommissioned the military base. In 1954, a Nike missile station was installed on the island for defense. The missile magazines were constructed above Point Blunt on the island's southeast corner, and the top of Mount Ida (now Mount Caroline Livermore) was flattened and the associated radar and tracking station (IFC) was installed there. In 1955, the State Park Commission authorized California State Parks to purchase 37 acres around Ayala Cove, marking the birth of Angel Island State Park. Four years later, additional acreage was purchased. In 1962, the last federal Department of Defense personnel withdrew turning over the entire island as a state park in December of the same year. In 1962, the missiles were removed when the military finally left the island and turned it back over to the public sector. The missile launch pad still exists, but the station atop Mount Caroline Livermore was completely removed and the mountaintop was later restored to its original contours. In 1964, the Chinese American community successfully lobbied the State of California to designate the immigration station as a State Landmark. In 1963, most of the island was turned over to California State Parks Department. Angel Island Immigration Station is a federally designated National Historic Landmark. On February 16, 2009, Angel Island was renovated by the California State Parks and re-opened. My visit: During my experience to the island, I remembered that the trip over was "cold" because it was during the spring time. The island offers a lot of hiking trails but not much else to see other than markers to tell what the island was all about.