Temporary Closure of Waters Around Alcatraz Island
From 7/3 to 9/22 a 500’ marine buffer zone is in effect, closing the perimeter of Alcatraz Island to all private vessels to protect nesting seabirds during America's Cup racing. Tours to Alcatraz continue as usual during the races. More »
Muir Beach (but not nearby Muir Woods) closed July 8-November 2013, but local businesses are open
Though Muir Beach is closed from July 8-November 2013 due to construction, the PELICAN INN IS OPEN. Restrooms and parking are not available at Muir Beach. Pacific Way is closed except to residents. Check back for updates or call (415)561-3054. More »
CAUTION: Post Storm Damage to Coastal Trail
The Presidio Coastal Trail segment just north of the Pacific Overlook and adjacent to Lincoln Blvd remains CLOSED indefinitely. We have posted signage to alert bicyclists and hikers and with information for safe trail alternatives. More »
Archeology at Golden Gate
What is Archeology?
Archeology is the way we study people who lived before us by looking at the things they left behind. Sometimes these things are large (like parts of an old building), and sometimes they are small (like marbles or coins). Sometimes people left these items behind on purpose (like garbage from a village), and sometimes the items were lost or forgotten (like buttons or toys). Archaeologists call these things artifacts. When we know a group of people lived or worked in a certain place, or when a collection of artifacts is found in a specific place, we call this an archeological site.
Unlike what you often see in the movies, real archeology is very careful and orderly. Once our team of archaeologists finds a site, they decide how to protect and treat it. Sometimes, the best protection for a site is to cover the area up and leave it alone. Other times, archeologist may watch or monitor the site for changes over time. Often, the best choice is to dig the site to uncover artifacts that we think may be important. This is called an excavation.
Artifacts at Golden Gate National Recreation Area
At the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, we have more than 370 archeological sites. From these sites, we have found almost 500,000 artifacts, including arrowheads, children's toys, old medicine bottles, buttons and buckles, figurines, tools, horseshoes, building materials and jewelry. In addition to artifacts, we also can learn exciting information from buildings, structures, layers of soil, or groupings of different artifacts.
To learn more about how archeologist learn information from artifacts, please visit the park's Artifacts and Collections page.
How to see Archeology in Action!
During your next visit to the GGNRA, be sure to check out these exciting archeological sites that are open to the public:
El Presidio de San Francisco - Take a walking tour of a former Spanish and Mexican fort.
Crissy Field - Learn about the history of this protected wetland that was once used as a US Army garbage dump.
Alcatraz - From tunnels to tide pools, learn more about hidden histories of The Rock.
Merrie Way - Explore the site of a Victorian amusement park at the edge of San Francisco.
Sutro Baths - As a former wildlife refuge, Victorian bath house, and ice skating rink, Sutro Baths has seen a lot of history! Come visit the ruins of this beautiful place.
Shipwrecks - Hike around Land's End Trail at low tide and look for wrecks off the coast.
You can also check out more artifacts and museum collections information at some of our on-line exhibits and blogs.
What if I find an archeological artifact?
Sometimes park visitors find things like arrowheads or glass bottles while hiking our trails or enjoying our beaches. All archeological sites and artifacts in the GGNRA are owned and protected by the U.S. Government. It is against the law to disturb an archeological site or take objects from the park (this is called "looting" or "pot hunting"). Remember, things in the park are here for us to share, not to take. Please, let the professional archeologist do their work! If you think you found an artifact, please contact our Park Archaeologist or find the nearest Park Ranger.
Leo Barker, Park Archeologist at e-mail us
Getting Involved with Archeology at the GGNRA
Here at the GGNRA, we have a small team of archaeologists who work hard to protect our park. Because our park is so large, we depend on our team of helpful volunteers to get things done. If you think that volunteering sounds like a great way to meet new people, have fun exploring the park, and learn more about archeology, visit our Volunteer page to learn more information.
Did You Know?
Geologists sometimes call Franciscan pillow basalt “greenstone” because it contains green minerals formed in an interaction between the basalt and hot, mineral-rich seawater.