This article is about the park with many sites in and around San Francisco and the Greater San Francisco Bay Area. For the urban City of San Francisco park located entirely within San Francisco, see Golden Gate Park.
The Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) is a U.S. National Recreation Area protecting 80,002 acres (32,376 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 was created thanks to the cooperative legislative efforts of cosponsors Congressman William S. Mailliard (R-San Francisco) and Congressman Phillip Burton (D-San Francisco). The plan for a non-contiguous national recreation area was conceived by Dr. Robert Busha, an administrator in Mailliard's Washington office, as a way to circumvent the prevailing limitation that national park property should be contiguous. 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 coastal 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 February 2005, Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced legislation in the United States Senate that would add 4,700 acres (1,900 ha) of natural land to the GGNRA in San Mateo County including a 4,076 acre 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 did not pass the House of Representatives.
San Francisco Bay, and the city skyline seen from Marin County in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
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
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
Lands End - a natural preserve including the Coastal Trail which will bring you to amazing 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
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
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.