What do we love so much about overnights on Angel Island?
Think about the grandest sunset views you’ve ever seen in the Bay Area. Now imagine being able to see all of them all at once from a single spot—a 270 degree view from the Marin Headlands to the whole of the Golden Gate Bridge, across all of San Francisco to the Bay Bridge to the East bay all the way up to the northern edge of Berkeley, and in the foreground, afloat on the bay, Alcatraz, Treasure Island, and the occasional bellowing cargo ship or glittering sailboat. Angel Island delivers stunning, unbelievable, jaw-dropping vistas every time. Words can’t really describe it. Even photos don’t come close to capturing it.
The view is just the beginning. What Angel Island reveals, apart from its distinct, taking-it-back landscape, is expansive.
This protected island, the largest rock in the Bay, remains a mystery, protected by water, fog, and the commitment it takes to get there (and secure camping reservations!). It’s one of those magical and rare places that time has forgotten in the Bay Area. Really there has only been a minimal amount of developed change on Angel Island in decades. It’s full of natural growth and fascinating decay that hint at its storied past.
300,000 soldiers passed through the island during WWII and in the early part of the 20th century it served as the immigration gateway for the West Coast. Now park benches and deer far outnumber people and the vast expanses of the island are delightfully empty, save for a few spots closest to the ferry stop and immigration station (tour highly recommended) on the north end of the island. The best part: when the last ferry leaves at 3 o’clock, you’re one of only a handful campers and a few hospitable rangers spread across the whole island.
The campsites live up to the rest of the experience. Fittingly spacious and dramatically punctuated with oaks, they are framed by tranquil Bay views of the sun setting over San Francisco, the Golden Gate, and the Headlands and rising again over the Coastal Range and East Bay urban landscape. The campsites connect to wide-open trails and abandoned roads that circle the island and are a must for exploring.
The Pedal Inn tour to Angel Island is a Huck-Finn-sized adventure just a twenty-mile bike and ferry ride away.
It’s a place for embracing the unexpected—there is so much to see! And it’s one of those destinations whose secret is so well kept that camping and adventuring here counts you in the lucky few in the Bay Area who can say they’ve been on an unforgettable island getaway right in their own backyard.
View the rest of our Angel Island photo gallery.