Of America’s 73 national monuments, 11 are located in California. In the San Francisco Bay Area, there are just three national monuments. But what may seem as a surprise, Alcatraz Island isn’t part of these select few. Nevertheless, where are these fascinating Bay Area spots that were deemed national monuments by presidential proclamation? Here is a brief introduction to those three national treasures along with a few more outside of the Bay Area.
Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument
Highway 128 at Knoxville Road
Winters, CA 95694
Current Status: Open
Extending through seven counties, Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument is among the newer national monuments in California. Proclaimed in 2015, the 330,780-acre protected area is situated within the California Inner Coast Ranges, and features Snow Mountain Wilderness in Mendocino National Forest and Cache Creek Wilderness. The vast area is a popular destination for hiking, camping, boating, fishing and other outdoor activities. Due to its enormity, there are several ways to reach sections of Berryessa Snow Mountain from the Bay Area, such as Lake Mendocino, Clear Lake and Highway 162 near Willows.
California Coastal National Monument
Highway 1 at Lighthouse Road
Point Arena, CA 9546
Current Status: Multiple locations are open. Please check the official website for additional information
California Coastal National Monument extends 1,100 miles along the entire California coast between the Oregon and Mexico borders. Established in 2000, the monument covers 2,800 acres, including 20,000 natural rock formations and small islands. A new addition to California Coastal National Monument is Point Arena-Stornetta in Mendocino County. Although not part of the national monument, Point Arena Lighthouse is a must-see and the tallest lighthouse on the Pacific Coast. Because the California Coastal National Monuments runs along the entire California coast, travelers can view this monument at multiple Bay Area locations, like San Francisco and Half Moon Bay, in addition to Santa Cruz, Monterey, Big Sur and San Diego.
Fort Ord National Monument
Highway 68 at Reservation Road
Marina, CA 93933
Current Status: Open dawn to dusk
Located on the vast property of a former military base, Fort Ord National Monument is jointly operated by the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Army. Established in 1917, Fort Ord was the home of the 7th Infantry Division, as well as one of the major basic training sites in the country. Shortly after the Army base closed in 1994, a section of Fort Ord was transformed into California State University, Monterey Bay. By 2012, 15,000 acres within the sprawling property became Fort Ord National Monument. Prior to the pandemic, the national monument was attracting 100,000 visitors annually and is a popular spot for hiking, biking and horseback riding.
Muir Woods National Monument
1 Muir Woods Road
Mill Valley, CA 94941
Current Status: Open but advance reservations are required
Part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Muir Woods National Monument preserves one of the Bay Area’s last old growth coast redwood groves. A 30-minute drive northwest of Golden Gate Bridge, Muir Woods was established as a national monument in 1908 and named after the environmentalist John Muir, who helped create Yosemite National Park. Muir Woods was drawing one million visitors annually and operates as a day-use area. Parking is limited and visitors arriving late may have to park on Muir Woods Road and walk to the visitor center.
Related: Discover A National Park By Boat
Tule Lake National Monument
800 Main St.
Tulelake, CA 96134
Current Status: The museum of local history and contact station are closed. Tours are not being offered at this time. Please check the park website for updated information.
Tule Lake was the location of a former Japanese internment camp and one of 10 internment camps across the western U.S. during World War II. Located in Modoc and Siskiyou counties, Tule Lake is the only California site of the nine-unit World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, which includes the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. During its peak, the Tule Lake War Relocation Center interned nearly 19,000 Japanese Americans and wass the largest of the 10 War Relocation Authority (WRA) camps. Lava Beds National Monument is also in Tulelake.
About The Author:
Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer who served as the National Travel Writer for CBS Local from 2012-2019. More than 900 of his stories still appear in syndication across 23 CBS Local websites, including CBS New York, CBS Los Angeles, CBS Chicago and CBS San Francisco. During his peak years with CBS, he reportedly had a digital audience reach of 489 million and more than 5.5 million monthly visitors. His other stories have also appeared in the Daily Meal, Examiner.com, CBS Radio, Engadget and Radio.com. He is a Media Fellow of Stanford University, U.S. Army veteran and lifelong resident of Santa Cruz County, California.