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 »
San Francisco Bay Discovery Site: Portola Site Acquisition Monument
Located in the town of Pacifica, California, the site of the discovery of San Francisco Bay consists of the point at which the Portola Expedition, 1769, crossed over Sweeney Ridge, and for the first time, came to view one of the world’s largest sheltered anchorages. From the top of Sweeney Ridge one can see not only inland to the Bay, but north along the ocean coast as far as Point Reyes. No structures are on the site nor are any in the immediate vicinity.
San Diego Historical Society
In late October of 1769, Captain Gaspar de Portola and his party of sixty men (with a caravan of 200 horses and mules for riding and the pack train) had come from San Diego in search of Monterey Bay, but from their overland approach, they had failed to recognize it. They had come north, climbed over
On November 1, 1769, Sergeant Ortega with a squad of scouts began a three-day reconnoitering tour. Somewhere along the five mile stretch between Mussel Rock and the summit (Point Reyes), Ortega saw San Francisco Bay on his first day of scouting. When Ortega returned to camp on November 3, Portola’s next move was an attempt to go around this new found “estuary” to examine the vicinity of Point Reyes. From the camp on
Three days of slow travel brought the expedition to the site of modern Palo Alto where a new base camp was made to await Ortega’s probing of the east side of the estuary. Ortega returned in four days with discouraging news. He encountered aggressively hostile Indians and observed great stretches of burned-over land leaving no pasture for the expedition’s livestock. A council was then called and the decision was made to return to San Diego.
The Portola Expedition ultimately accomplished its purpose of finding Monterey Bay. The San Francisco region was further explored by Lieutenant Pedro Pagas in 1772 and by Juan Bautista de Anza in 1776. The importance of the inland bay was further emphasized by the establishment of a presidio and two missions in the environs of the bay.
Today, the site of the “discovery” of San Francisco Bay consists essentially of two knolls from which the member of the expedition acquired the view. The total acreage of the site is approximately 18.15. There are two commemorative monuments that celebrate the Gaspar de Portola Expedition. No structures are there now nor have likely been ever there. The view of course has changed considerably with the growth of the Bay Area, now including broad industrial and residential building development. It is nevertheless a breath-taking sight to see the tremendous expanse of the Bay Area spread beneath one’s feet in one sweep.
To learn more about this area, download the parks' site bulletin on Sweeney Ridge (481.88 kb PDF).
If you are interested in learning more about the early history of the California coast and how the Spanish colonized this area, visit the National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary at http://www.nps.gov/history/nr/travel/ca/index.htm
Did You Know?
For over a decade, Golden Gate National Recreation Area has worked to decrease its impact on the environment by implementing numerous sustainable practices. More...