What Makes GGNRA Special?

Golden Gate National Recreation Area is special to many people in many different ways. The park's natural resources and cultural history are truly exceptional and have led to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designating it as a Biosphere Reserve, and The International Coalition of Sites of Conscience to recognize it as an International Site of Conscience. Golden Gate's, Alcatraz Island, is also a sister park to San Lucas Island in the Republic of Costa Rica.


UNESCO Biosphere Reserve

Originally recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Man and the Biosphere Program in 1988, our official UNESCO Biosphere Region status is evidence of the significant ecological and cultural diversity of the San Francisco Bay Area. In fact, we are the only Biosphere Region in the United States where land, sea, and city meet. From the windswept coasts of Sonoma County to the towering peaks of Mt. Tamalpais, and from the bustling Presidio to the quiet solitude of the Farallones, our Biosphere Region celebrates the connections between these incredible natural spaces and the communities who live, work, and play within them. The Golden Gate Biosphere Network is a partnership between local, state, and federal agencies, nonprofits, universities, and community groups who work together to promote scientific research, education, conservation, and sustainable development within the Biosphere Region.

For more informtion visit Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary
Download the Golden Gate Biosphere Fact Sheet
Download the Golden Gate Biosphere Zonation Map

What Makes Us a Biosphere Reserve


Sister Park Agreement with the Republic of Costa Rica

A side-by-side photo of the docks at Alcatraz Island and San Lucas Island with water and trees in the background.
Left: Alcatraz Island. Right: San Lucas Island. Photos by NPS/Will Elder & SINAC.

On June 23, 2021, the National Park Service signed a sister park agreement with the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) of the Republic of Costa Rica that links Alcatraz Island & San Lucas Island National Park.

The two parks share a similar history as former prison islands that have since become iconic cultural landmarks—both of which also now serve as habitat for a diverse array of wildlife.

San Lucas Island is located off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica and operated as a prison from 1873 to 1991 before becoming the country's 30th national park in 2020. The agreement is a continuation of the relationship NPS and SINAC have had since the 1970s. In 1972, Alcatraz became part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and was later designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986.

The agreement promotes cooperation between the two government agencies and furthers the countries’ long-standing cooperation. It will allow staff at both parks to share management strategies—including technical and professional knowledge, information, data, technology, training, and experience—for the mutual benefit of each unique location.

For more information about San Lucas Island, visit the SINAC website (in Spanish).

Last updated: July 11, 2022

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Golden Gate National Recreation Area
201 Fort Mason

San Francisco, CA 94123


United States Park Police Dispatch: Non-Emergency: 415-561-5505 Emergency: 415-561-5656

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