A magical thing happens when you’re relaxing at one of the eleven secluded campsites in Angel Island State Park and the sun starts setting over the surrounding bay. The sea glows tangerine for a few moments and you realize you’re (almost) all alone on this slice of Bay Area paradise. Just you and the unobstructed vistas spanning Richardson Bay, the Bay Bridge, San Francisco, Alcatraz, the Golden Gate, and Mount Tam. Don’t be surprised if a deer and her babies, or even a dashing young buck, saunter past your campsite. As night deepens and the island owls begin hooting, the lights on the Bay and Golden Gate Bridges become your lanterns for the evening—aglow and flickering, flanking the twinkling San Francisco skyline as the lighthouse on Alcatraz stands guard.
Want to be this happy camper? Make it happen by planning early—as in now. Sites book out far in advance, but it’s worth the wait. Our recommendation: try for any of the campsites on the island’s south-facing side. And the higher the perch, the better. Sites here give you quick access to hidden Perles Beach (sublime at sundown), and strolling the paved Perimeter Trail in total solitude is wonderful under moonlight (aided by a headlamp). Fair warning: there’s no shuttle or bellhop to deliver your stuff to your site, so be equipped to reach it via two wheels or two heels. Whether you bike or hike, the farther you go southwest along Perimeter Road, the better things get—especially in the twilight hours. Sweet (island) dreams!
TIP: During the day, take some time to explore the island and hike to the peak of Mount Livermore for more outstanding views.
There are 11 overnight-use campsites on Angel Island. Reserve online or by calling (800) 444-7275. Reservations can be made up to seven months in advance and dates are released in one-month blocks of time (i.e., on August 1, 2014, the entire month of February 2015 becomes available). Charcoal grills or camp stoves are permitted in campsites, no wood fires. There are outhouse toilets. Bikes are available to rent on the island but they go fast! No dogs.