The Bay Area’s national parks: closed until… they’re not


In case you’re wondering how the government shutdown affects regular everyday non-governmentally employed folks, look no further than our nearby national parks. They’re all closed effective immediately.

Well, you can’t actually close a park, as in throw a big tarp over it and shut off the lights. But you can bar all the access roads into and out of, turn out the campers, close up the ranger stations and information posts, and cancel any scheduled weddings or other events. If you’re determined to enjoy one of these park, you can guerilla your way in like these vets at the WWII Memorial in DC, and just hike over or around barriers. But be mindful of law enforcement exempt from the furlough, while huge parks like Yosemite would require a long hike before accessing the best trails and sights.

Anyway, we’re especially affected in the Bay Area because of Golden Gate National Recreation Area: 80,000 acres which stretches from counties San Mateo to Marin. The second most visited park in the entire national park system, with 13 million visitors per year, is made up of a lot of smaller parks, and is a major draw for tourists and locals alike. Here’s a partial list:


Alcatraz Island
The Rock’s 5,000 daily visitors will have to find other things to do in the city. The federal park is closed, which especially sucks for the many tourists who’ve planned their Bay Area trip with Alcatraz high on the list.


Muir Woods
This national monument on the edge of Mill Valley is officially closed. It has no campsites, but can still be accessed by parking along the road and hiking in, or even hiking up the Dipsea Trail.


Marin Headlands
The hiking trails here can still be accessed, but parking may be an issue. And all the campsites in an around the headlands are closed, which is especially upsetting for campers at popular sites Kirby Cove and Steep Ravine, which requires six-months advance reservations. The Marin Headlands Hostel will also be closed starting Thursday, Oct. 3.

Stinson Baech / Bolinas Lagoon

Stinson Beach
The official parking lot and restrooms are closed, but you can still access the beach through other means. If the surfers here can brave great whites, a park enforcer on a megaphone is nothing.

Tomales Point

Point Reyes National Seashore and Lighthouse
The main Limantour Road into the park, and other roads to beaches, attractions and the lighthouse, are closed.


Fort Baker
Fort Baker is ostensibly closed, but the concessions that lease land in the park – Cavallo Point and Discovery Museum – are open (for now).


The Presidio
With all the residents and organizations in the Presidio, they can’t actually shut the gates. But parking lots at Crissy Field, Battery East and Baker Beach are closed, as is the visitor center, Fort Point, and the Warming Hut and Beach Hut cafes.


Sutro Baths and Cliff House
Cliff House was open for about week, but has since closed (on 10/9). The parking lot and lookout/visitor center at Lands End are both closed, but you can still walk down to the Sutro Baths.

uss pampanito

San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park
Located at the end of Jefferson St in Fisherman’s Wharf, the park’s visitor center, maritime museum and fleet of six historic vessels are closed for tour.

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