Golden Gate National Recreation Area


The Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) holds one of the largest collections in the National Park Service, with a total of nearly 6.5 million items in four disciplines: Archives, Archaeology, History, and Natural History. Materials document the San Francisco Bay Area’s extensive history on both sides of the Golden Gate Strait from the early prehistory of native tribes, through the military presence of three nations, to the events and decisions that shaped the culture of San Francisco and its surrounding areas.

The park is so rich it supports 19 distinct ecosystems with more than 2,000 plant and animal species. Go for a hike, enjoy a vista, have a picnic, or learn about the centuries of overlapping history from California’s indigenous cultures, Spanish colonialism, the Mexican Republic, United States military expansion, and the growth of San Francisco. All of this and more awaits. Get out and find your park.

Featured Fun

The Museum Program at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area is excited to share a series of virtual exhibitions that enable it to share the collections it safeguards for the public. Hopefully, these exhibitions encourage people to learn about the unique and diverse history at the GGNRA.

Explore the history of the former Presidio Army Museum from the comfort of your home. Closed when the U.S. Army departed the Presidio of San Francisco, the museum’s collections remain a part of the Golden Gate NRA’s Museum Program today.

The Alcatraz Island Exhibition features extensive collection from the Island, also known as “The Rock.” GGNRA collection artifacts on view include objects made by notorious inmates, historic photographs and documents, escape materials and inmate artwork; items used by officers, including materials from when Alcatraz was a military prison from 1859 through 1934; federal penitentiary materials from 1934 through 1963; and materials that relate to American Indian Occupation of the island from 1969 through 1971.

Centuries of Defense explores more than 200 years of military history in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The Presidio of San Francisco was the oldest continually operating military post in the country, from its beginnings as an outpost of the Spanish military in 1776 to its decommissioning as a United States Army post in 1994. Many additional sites within the GGNRA lent themselves to defensive positions as well. See at timeline of highlights that show the development of the Bay Area’s strategic military sites and how they made the transition into parklands.

Celebrate the GGNRA’s 40th birthday with Parks for the People, an exhibition that reviews park lands in three counties (Marin, San Francisco, and San Mateo)–examining the area’s cultural and natural contributions and how the land became part of the park. This was first displayed at the San Francisco History Expo in 2012.

People of the Parks: The Unfolding Tale expands on the 2012 exhibition with additional stories, photographs, and objects that highlight the impact of people on the Golden Gate National Recreation.