Angel Island is home to hiking, camping, and plenty of sightseeing (and yes, it’s worth the boat trip)

For some of California’s best views along with scenic hikes and quiet camping, Angel Island State Park is the place to go.

Angel Island State Park is a great camping destination for those looking for a relatively secluded location with some privacy. It is located right in the middle of the San Francisco Bay Area. It offers views of Marin Country, San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge and East Bay. It has received the distinction of being a California Historic Landmark. Angel Island is known for its historical, cultural and natural significance. It has structures that date back to the Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II.

Angel Island Immigration Station is a National Historic Landmark, where immigrants from Asia were detained, inspected, and screened (due to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882). The island was also a wartime transit station and detention center for Japanese, Italian and German immigrants and prisoners of war. It was also a quarantine facility for bubonic plague.


In 1955, initiatives began to transform Angel Island into a state park.

Plants and animals on Angel Island

The island is surrounded by coastal meadows. Other plants native to the island include Living Coast Oak, California Hazelnut, Bay, Toyon, and Western Sword Fern. In the past, military troops have attempted to plant eucalyptus bluegum for beautification and timber, but have been removed to reduce the risk of fire and protect native flora.

Angel Island is an ideal site for fishing and bird watching. There used to be a large population of deer for hunting. However, when hunting was banned, the deer population increased to the point that the habitat could no longer support it. Beware of mammals like raccoons and the Angel Island mole. Sea lions and harbor seals can usually be found on the rocks near the beach.

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Important landmarks to visit

Since Angel Island has a rich and colorful history, it has influenced developments on the island. Some have been badly damaged over the years, while others have been restored.

  • Mount Livermore – flattened in the 1950s, but re-dome later. It is a popular hiking trail that offers 360 degree views of the bay area.
  • Angel Island Immigration Station (1910) – where immigrants from over 80 countries were processed and screened
  • Ayala cove – was once the quarantine station of the United States Public Health Service
  • Camp Reynolds (western garrison) – contains structures that date back to the Civil War. It offers beach access to visitors.
  • Fort McDowell (Eastern Garrison) – has structures from the First and Second World War. It offers access to one of the island’s hidden gems, Quarry Beach.

Campgrounds on Angel Island

Angel Island has several camping sites. Reservations are highly recommended, but there are sites available on a first come, first served basis. Each site is equipped with food racks, tables, dry toilets, running water and an outdoor barbecue. Campers must bring charcoal for the barbecue as firewood is not allowed at campsites. This is to minimize the risk of forest fires.

East Bay sites: Site 1, 2, 3

Ridge sites: Sites 4, 5, 6

Sunrise sites: Sites 7, 8, 9

Kayak site

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Activities to do in Angel Island State Park

Angel Island offers some basic outdoor activities for campers. The island itself is mostly made up of forests, beaches and meadows. Apart from monuments and historic structures, no major recreational structures have been added.

Trek

Perimeter road

  • Length: Five miles
  • Rank: Easy

Mount Livermore

  • Length: ~ Six thousand
  • Rank: Moderate

Cycling

Bike rentals are available, but visitors can also bring their own.

  • Rental cost: Mountain bikes: $ 16 per hour, $ 64 for a full day
  • Electric bikes: $ 26 per hour, $ 99 for a full day
  • Calendar: Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

* times may vary depending on the season

Tram tour

  • Thursday and Friday – 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
  • Saturday and Sunday – 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

* Hours may vary depending on the season

Saltwater Fishing at Ayala Cove

Halibut, cod, rockfish and sturgeon are found in the area. Visitors must bring their own bait and tackle.

To swim

Visitors have access to the beach for swimming.

Bird watching

The island is home to robins, egrets, kingfishers, hummingbirds, seagulls, ducks and geese. Visitors should bring their own binoculars for bird watching.

Where to eat

  • Angel Island Café – The Café offers hot meals and spectacular coastal views of Ayala Cove and Tiburon.
  • Angel Island Cantina – From June to September, visitors can enjoy live music and Mexican-style food.
  • Boxed Meal – a fixed meal for visitors to Angel Island who wish to order food. Meals can be ordered in advance and picked up at Angel Island Café (424).

Getting There

Angel Island is accessible by ferry from San Francisco, Tiburon or Vallejo. The prices include the entrance to the park. There are regular ferry trips from any of the stations, but experienced campers recommend making reservations, especially from spring through fall. The boat trip takes less than 30 minutes.

  • Tickets: Adults (13-64) – $ 15.00, Senior (65+) – $ 14.00, Children (6-12) – $ 13.00, Children (3-5) – $ 5.00, Toddlers (2 years old and under) – Free

When should we go

Angel Island receives the most visitors during the summer season due to the good weather. However, campers will find the island worth a visit even in spring and fall, as tours are ongoing and from spring to fall – tours are ongoing, the cafe is open. Wildflowers start to bloom from January until spring.

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