Golden Gate National Recreation Area

Left & Upper Right Photo Credits: Mason Cummings, NPS
Lower Right Photo Credit: Jessica Weinberg, NPS

The Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) is one of the most visited units of the U.S. National Park system. Established by President Richard Nixon in 1972, the GGNRA has continued to grow through the addition of parcels of land bought from or donated by the military, private landowners, and non-profit organizations. As a result, the GGNRA is not one single protected area like many other national parks, but is comprised of a number of sites that span Marin, San Francisco, and San Mateo Counties. The park is also unique in that most of these sites are adjacent to urban and suburban areas and so offer easy access to a wide range of visitors.

The GGNRA houses a vast array of historical resources that encompass native cultures, Spanish exploration, agriculture, historic lighthouses, military history from Civil War forts to Cold War Nike missile sites, and the federal prison at Alcatraz. The park is also part of the UNESCO Golden Gate Biosphere Reserve and lies within a region that the Nature Conservancy and Conservation International have named one of 25 global biodiversity hotspots. Indeed, the park is home to many unique natural resources such as grasslands, coastal scrub, redwood forests, tree-lined ridges and valleys, beaches, lagoons, and stunning coastal cliff top overlooks. Within this amazing array of habitats live threatened and endangered species including coho salmon, steelhead trout, mission blue butterflies, Northern Spotted Owls, California red-legged frogs, San Francisco garter snakes and numerous other plants and animals.