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Golden Gate National Recreation Area

Golden Gate National Recreation Area

The Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) is a U.S. National Recreation Area protecting 82,027 acres (33,195 ha) of ecologically and historically significant landscapes surrounding the San Francisco Bay Area. Much of the park is land formerly used by the United States Army. GGNRA is managed by the National Park Service and is one of the most visited units of the National Park system in the United States, with more than 15 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 southern San Mateo County to northern 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.

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 - an artist residency program set in renovated military buildings in the Marin Headlands. Offers programs including performances, discussions and lectures, and displays a 1,800-square-foot (170 m2) project space with a rotating roster of artists open to the public
Marin Headlands - hilly peninsula at the southernmost end of Marin County that includes The Marine Mammal Center, 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
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 Beach - a beach north of San Francisco and south of Bolinas Lagoon
Muir Beach Overlook - a former Army base-end station with a clifftop view of the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco, on State Route 1
Fort Cronkhite - a former World War II Army post located near Rodeo Beach.
Nike Missile Site SF-88 - a decommissioned Army surface-to-air missile (SAM) site located near Fort Barry.

Camping sites
Bicentennial Camp - open year-round, free, three 3-person sites (the GGNR websites states "no pets" even though the photos here have dogs in them)
Hawk Camp - open year-round, free, three 4-person sites
Haypress Camp - open year-round, free, five 4-person sites
Kirby Cove Camp - open April 1 through November 30, $25 per site/night, five 10-person sites and one 35 person Day Use site.
Youth Hostel
Hostelling International USA (part of Hostelling International) maintains the Marin Headlands Hostel located in a historic military hospital in the Marin Headlands

San Francisco
Alcatraz Island - site of a Civil War fort, military prison, and the infamous Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary
China Beach - a small beach located north of the Sea Cliff district in San Francisco near the Presidio of San Francisco
Fort Funston - a former coastal fortification and Nike missile site SF-59L; now a popular hang gliding spot
Fort Mason - the San Francisco Port of Embarkation National Historic Site 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
Lands End - a natural preserve including the Coastal Trail which will bring one to scenic views of the Marin Headlands and Golden Gate. Includes Mile Rock, the site of a former lighthouse and, subsequently, a helipad located offshore at the southwestern edge of the Golden Gate
Presidio of San Francisco - a former military reservation, and site of the initial Spanish fortification in San Francisco, including:
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
Battery Chamberlin - one of the last remaining coastal defense "disappearing guns" on the U.S. West Coast
Crissy Field - a former airfield restored to a 100-acre (40 ha) shoreline
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
The San Francisco National Cemetery
Ocean Beach - a popular surf spot on the western side of San Francisco
The Sutro District - a collection of historic attractions developed by Adolph Sutro in the late 19th Century, including:
The Cliff House - a historic restaurant first built in 1863, rebuilt following fires in 1894 and 1907. Also houses the Camera Obscura, a historic building containing a device which projects a 360° image
Sutro Baths - concrete ruins of an indoor swimming pool constructed in 1894 by former SF mayor Adolf Sutro dominate the southwest corner
Sutro Heights Park - public park and former estate of Adolf Sutro

Camping sites
Rob Hill Group Camp - open April through November, $125/night, two 30-person public sites, each with four parking spaces, must be reserved three days in advance with the Presidio Trust.

San Mateo County
Milagra Ridge - 240-acre (97 ha) 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 - a small parcel located in Pacifica, consisting of a ridge with overlooks of the San Francisco peninsula. Trails lead across the ridge and to Sharp Park beach. The site includes recently restored wetlands and a pond, protecting endangered San Francisco garter snake and red-legged frog habitat.
Rancho Corral de Tierra - the GGNRA's newest park. A former Mexican land grant north of Half Moon Bay and on Montara Mountain, this site was preserved through the work of the Peninsula Open Space Trust, which acquired the property and then sold it to the GGNRA.

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