Frequently Asked Questions

What are the hours of operation?
The hours of operation vary with the season. Departures from San Francisco are available throughout the day beginning at 8:45am. The ferry, operated by Alcatraz Cruises, runs approximately every thirty to forty minutes to and from Alcatraz. You may return to San Francisco on any ferry. The island closes for the day at 6:30pm in the summer, and 4:30pm in fall, winter and spring. For schedules, prices, and to purchase tickets in advance (recommended) please visit the Alcatraz Cruises website.

Will the island be open? Are tickets available?
Alcatraz is open 362 days a year! The island is closed only on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day, or (rarely) due to extreme weather.

Is there a nighttime program?
The Alcatraz Night Program runs Tuesday-Saturday. This program differs from the day time visits in several ways. Evening visits feature park guide-led tours to the cellhouse, the audio tour, Alcatraz Map & Guide, special programs on a variety of Alcatraz topics, and dramatic evening views of the San Francisco skyline. Some sections of the island open during the day are not open to the public at night. For schedules, prices, and to purchase tickets in advance please visit the Alcatraz Cruises website.

How's the weather?
The weather on the island can be unpredictable and may change suddenly. It's often chillier on Alcatraz than on the mainland -- we recommend layers! Fog is common in the summer, rain in the winter. Annual temperatures fluctuate between 70-45 degrees F.

Should I purchase tickets in advance?
Advance ticket sales are strongly recommended. Tickets to Alcatraz may sell out several weeks ahead during summer months and around holiday weekends. Tickets can be purchased in advance from Alcatraz Cruises.


What rules and regulations do I need to follow on Alcatraz?
Some sections of Alcatraz are unsafe to visit. These areas closed to the public are well marked by fences or barricades. Collecting of any sort is prohibited. Plant and animal life are protected by law - do not feed birds on Alcatraz. No food service is available on Alcatraz, however there is a picnic area located at the dock. Food, drinks (including candy and gum) are only allowed on the dock. (An exception is bottled water, which is available in the bookstore on the dock on Alcatraz.) Smoking is only permitted in designated sections of the dock.

Is Alcatraz accessible?
The distance from the dock to the cellhouse at the top of the island is about 1/4 mile, the elevation change is 130 feet (equivalent to a thirteen story climb). Visitors unable to make the climb up Alcatraz's steep road may take advantage of SEAT - Sustainable Easy Access Transport, an electric shuttle which runs once every half hour from the dock to the cellhouse, and once every half hour from the cellhouse to the dock. Other accessibility features include:

  • Tactile Model of Island and Pier 33
  • Accessible Parking at Pier 33
  • Accessible Restroom Facilities
  • Audio Described Tour
  • Assistive Listening Devices
  • Open Captioning
  • Braille Transcript of Cell House Tour
  • An American Sign Language version of the cell house audio tour is available on an individual hand held digital device. This new tour is free, and requires no reservation. Now Deaf visitors can experience the cell house tour in the same way as hearing and blind visitors, with the ability to skip, repeat, or fast forward through segments of the tour.

Detailed information about accessibilty is available here.


Are guided tours available?
Interpretive walks and guided programs are offered throughout the day by National Park Rangers and volunteers. These programs are included in the price of your ticket, and include conversations around the Occupation of Alcatraz by the Indians of All Tribes, cell door demonstrations, discussions of Alcatraz's legacy, and more. Program titles and locations are posted on the dock and in the cellhouse.

Are self-guided tours available?
Explore the history of Alcatraz at your own pace with a map and written guide. Pick up the Self Guide brochure in English, Spanish, Italian, Spanish, German or Japanese at the dock for $1.00 per copy. A companion brochure on escapes is available in the bookstore near the dock or in the cellhouse.

What about the Cellhouse recorded Audio Tour?
Join former Alcatraz inmates and correctional officers as they remember life on Alcatraz in this award winning 35-minute recorded tour, included in the price of your ticket to Alcatraz. Pick up the tour inside the Cellhouse. Available in English, Spanish, Italian, German, Japanese, Mandarin, Dutch and French.

What else can I do on Alcatraz?
Attend a 17-minute video presentation of the Island's 200 year history - an excellent introduction to Alcatraz. The theater is 50 yards up the road from the dock. For hearing impaired visitors, the video is open captioned. The video is subtitled in Spanish as well. Several exhibits are located behind the theater. An award winning video (captioned) exhibit, "We Hold the Rock", presents the story of the occupation by Indians of All Tribes (1969-1971). The New Industries Building (former prison workshops, often home to a current art exhibit) is typically open during limited daytime hours.

Can I purchase souvenirs on Alcatraz?
Memorabilia, film, videos, and books about the Island's rich history are available for sale by the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, at the bookstores near the dock and in the cellhouse, and online.

Last updated: April 9, 2019

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

Alcatraz Island
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
B201 Fort Mason

San Francisco, CA 94123

Phone:

(415) 561-4900

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