Alcatraz-Golden Gate NRA

Last time Craig and I visited San Francisco, we did not have enough time to visit Alcatraz. I was really looking forward to it for our June 2015 trip. I booked our boat tickets 90 days ahead of time. The only way to get to Alcatraz is by a ferry operated by Alcatraz Cruises on Pier 33. Give yourself plenty of time to get there. The waterfront area is huge! The views of San Francisco on the boat and on the island are amazing. Our trip started out foggy, but then it turned sunny and the fog lifted. There is also a very popular night tour.

Alcatraz is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and has a few stamps for your National Parks passport. I love the lighthouse one!  

There is a garden tour you can do on certain days of the week if you get an early boat. You can also get a headset with a self guided tour. The narrators are former inmates and guards. The headsets are included in your entrance/boat fee. You can walk all over most of the island at your leisure and get a boat back when you feel like it. We even saw the cell from Escape From Alcatraz that had Frank Morris’s fake head in it. Before our trip we watched a few movies like The Rock and that made the visit even better.

The baby Seagulls we saw were very cute. Give yourself a few hours to see it all.

 

Book tickets and day trips to Alcatraz

America the Beautiful Annual Pass.

As Craig and I head off for our two week California road trip, one of the first things we will buy at the Golden Gate NRA or Alcatraz is the America the Beautiful annual pass. Most of the larger National Parks cost around $25 or more during peak times to enter.  This fee is usually good for 7 days. The America the Beautiful annual pass is $80. US Military can get a free annual pass. If you are a senior a lifetime pass is $10!

These passes are a great deal if you are planning on visiting several National Parks in one trip like we are. If you plan on visiting some this year and next year, try to time it so you can use your pass for both trips.

“Each Annual Pass admits pass owner/s and passengers in a non-commercial vehicle at per-vehicle fee areas; and pass owner + 3 adults, not to exceed 4 adults, where per-person fees are charged. (Children under 16 are always admitted free).”

Here is a list of places where you can get the America the Beautiful annual pass.

I will be posting pictures to our Facebook site as we travel. Lots of National Park Passport stamps to collect on this trip!

Muir Woods National Monument

The last time Craig and I were in San Francisco we did a tour of Sonoma. On the way we stopped at Muir Woods National Monument. Muir Woods NM is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. It is about 11 miles north of San Francisco and a great half day trip if you are visiting the city. Muir Woods celebrated its 100th Anniversary on January 9, 2008! William and Elizabeth Kent donated the land to the government. They wanted it named after naturalist and writer John Muir. The park gets very crowded especially on the weekends. There is a park and ride from San Francisco if you do not want to worry about trying to find parking. 

The Redwood trees are so amazing to see in person. Coastal Redwoods can grow over 300 feet and they are the tallest trees on Earth. Redwoods have been around for about 240 million years! They are only found on the Pacific Coast.

“The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always. No one has ever successfully painted or photographed a redwood tree. The feeling they produce is not transferable. From them comes silence and awe. It’s not only their unbelievable stature, nor the color which seems to shift and vary under your eyes, no, they are not like any trees we know, they are ambassadors from another time.”- John Steinbeck

It was very peaceful walking around and enjoying the trees. Get there early to beat the crowds! There is a lovely gift shop on site with US made gifts and art. We will have to go back soon because we did not have our National  Parks Passport at the time. We need to get a stamp!