Scattered around Angel Island are 10 campsites, most with scenic views of San Francisco Bay. The sites are so popular that it's practically impossible to book a Saturday night stay, even in winter.
All sites require a 1–2 mile walk from the ferry landing. A lot of people bring their stuff in rolling coolers or wagons, which is possible because Perimeter Road is paved and relatively level except for the steep climb out of Ayala Cove. It still seems like a really long way to drag a wagon, though.
Each site has a picnic table with a well-built food locker and a charcoal grill. No wood fires are allowed; the grill is only supposed to be used with charcoal, which isn’t sold on the island. There also aren’t any camping supplies or provisions for sale on the island. The Kayak and Sunrise sites have vault toilets; the others have outhouses.
To provide a slightly less rugged camping experience, the park may eventually set up 13 basic cabins (no heat, electricity, or plumbing) on the open hillside next to the immigration station.
Site 1 is in a cul-de-sac at the end of a dirt road. The site is huge, with 2 picnic tables. The site itself is shaded and doesn’t have any views, but past the trees is is a small unofficial tent site with an excellent panoramic view of the East Bay Hills. It’s fun to sit here and watch the big ships go by. The site is the most private of all the Angel Island sites (maybe tied with site 4); it’s at the end of a dirt road, well away from the other sites.
Site 2 is tucked away under some trees on a hillside with a limited view of the Berkeley Hills. The hillside provides pretty good shelter from the wind. The tent sites are on a slight incline. The site is small but is the most attractive of the East Bay sites; this is the only East Bay site where the picnic table has a good view.
Site 3 is on an open hillside with stumps and cut logs scattered around. The picnic table and official tent site is at the low end of the clearing, where the views are mostly blocked by the surrounding trees. However, there’s an unofficial tent site at the top of the clearing with a very nice panoramic view of San Francisco, the Bay Bridge, and the East Bay. There isn’t any shade or shelter from the wind, and the entire site is pretty badly sloped, with no level ground for tents.
Sites 7, 8, and 9 are clumped together around a dirt road cul-de-sac on a little plateau. There are no trees, no shade, and no privacy at all; it's kind of like camping in a parking lot. But the flip side of the open setting is that the sites have outstanding views of San Francisco and the East Bay. Site 9 is set back from the edge of the flat and has less of a view than sites 7 and 8.
If you can reserve all three, these sites would be great group camp, but for individual campers they’re less than ideal.
Site 4 has the best view of all of the Angel Island sites. The large cypress trees that used to shade the site have unfortunately been cut down, leaving stumps scattered around the campsite and no shade and no shelter from the frigid, foggy wind blowing through the Golden Gate at all. However there are spectacular sweeping views of Mount Tamalpais, the Golden Gate Bridge, and San Francisco. The site has excellent privacy since it’s high up on the ridgetop, well away from the other campsites. There are two picnic tables and the site is quite large.
Site 5 is generally considered the best of the Angel Island campsites. It’s at the edge of a bluff with superb views of San Francisco. There are two picnic tables and tent sites, one out in the open and the under very dense tree cover. Both areas have great views. The shaded area is huge. Site 6 is nearby, but the trees provide good privacy.
Site 6 is set back next to some cypress trees right by Battery Wallace (which is essentially a big cement pit) and the outhouse. This is the only campsite on Angel Island that doesn’t have any view of the Bay at all.
Site 10 is an ADA site, meaning that it’s only reservable if you have a disability placard. It’s located near the perimeter road. It’s nicely shaded and has a limited (mostly blocked by trees) but very scenic view of Racoon Strait. A vault toilet is right across from the site.
Kayak Camp is a group campsite in a clearing near a beach, mainly for use by people who paddle to the island. The view is blocked by the trees that surround the clearing.
© 2019 David Baselt