Short Trip Series: Spending the night on Angel Island

» Posted by on Apr 9, 2014 in Featured, San Francisco, short trip, weekend

Angel Island is a California State Park in the middle of the San Francisco Bay. It has incredible views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the city of San Francisco and Alcatraz. In a previous post, I made a day trip there but this post is about spending the night on Angel Island.

Depending on the season, the last ferry leaves the island between 3:30 and 5:20pm (make sure to check the schedule online) and unless you have your own boat that’s your deadline. But for a few hard core planners, it’s possible to secure a camping spot on Angel Island. In that case you will be sharing the island with at most 40 persons (including the park rangers, the kayak groups, and the large camping group).

After the departure of the last ferry (which was 3:30pm in our case), the island is becoming quieter, you are no longer hearing people talking, laughing or playing. After setting our tent, we hiked to the summit of Mount Livermore. From there you have a full 360 degrees views of the bay. It was not a very clear day, a stubborn low marine layer stayed anchored on San Francisco, and it was quite windy at the summit, we chose to find a more protected spot for our evening shoot.

The golden gate bridge at night from Angel Island.

The Golden Gate Bridge at night from Angel Island.

It turned out that from our tent area we had a perfect 180 degrees view, from the Golden Gate Bridge to the new East span of the Bay Bridge.

The Bay bridge at night from Angel Island.

The Bay Bridge at night from Angel Island.

The Eastern span of the Bay bridge at night from Angel Island.

The Eastern span of the Bay Bridge at night from Angel Island.

I personally love the view of Alcatraz in the foreground and the city of San Franscisco in the background.

Alcatraz island at night from Angel Island.

Alcatraz Island at night from Angel Island.

The next morning I woke one hour before sunrise to see if the marine layer had dissipated during the night. No luck, the East side was blocked by a combination of fog and clouds. The sun had no chance to shine thru. While waiting, I made coffee and enjoyed the view. Suddenly, the sun found one small hole and lit the water and the city, I had time to snap two images before it was gone.

San Francisco and the Bay Bridge at sunrise.

San Francisco and the Bay Bridge at sunrise.

After breakfast, we had a couple visitors while we were breaking camp. Deers are very present on the island, they are good swimmers (who knew) and at some point some swam across and populated the island.

Deer are vey present on island. They swam to the island.

Deer are vey present on island. They swam to the island.

Angel Island was mostly known for its immigration center (which is still there and can be visited daily, see my previous post) but there are also a lot of military defense batteries that were built all around the island.

Left over from the day where Angel Island was a military post.

Left over from the day where Angel Island was a military post.

Camp Reynolds of Angel Island.

Camp Reynolds of Angel Island.

The weekend was over, it was time to catch our ferry back to Tiburon.

Tiburon, Ca

Tiburon, CA

If you want to camp on Angel Island, you have to reserve a campsite on the ReserveAmerica website. There are 6 individual camp sites and 4 group sites, plus one kayak site. The reservation opens in block, the first of each month at 8am PST, for the period 6 months ahead. For example, May 1st will open the block of reservation for the month of November. Set a reminder, get online at 8am (or a bit before) and try to get a site (good luck).

[Update: I did realize that it’s actually quite easy to spend the night on Angel Island, if you can do it during the week. If you check the reservation website, you will quickly notice that most campsite are always available during the week. So if you really want to experience Angel Island, go during the week.]

A third option is to use ETC, they offer kayak trips and stays in Camp Reynolds (in the building in the picture above). We met them while they were preparing their dinner. Their accommodation is pretty rustic but you do not have to bring a tent since you are sleeping on raised platforms in the building and you are staying right on the edge of the water.

All the images presented here are available for licensing or as fine art prints.