Fall 2020 guide to the parks

Reconnect with your parks this fall


Alcatraz Island

This year we’ve missed seeing volunteers, program participants, students, and the rest of our park community in person—but we’ve been so inspired by what we’ve been able to do together at a distance. Going into the fall, some sites that were closed throughout the summer are now open and providing an opportunity for locals to safely experience the outdoors and history in our own backyard. Those include Alcatraz Island, the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center, and Fort Point National Historic Site—check them out! Self-guided outings like StoryWalks in the Presidio will be extended into the fall, and more creative virtual events and conferences are in the works. 

We find strength in your commitment to keep racial and social justice at the forefront as we rebuild in the parks together, and expanded resources are available below for continued learning. Whether it’s in passing as you board a boat to Alcatraz or at a webinar on climate resilience, we look forward to seeing you in the parks this fall.


Alcatraz Island is open, and now is the time to experience the island without the crowds. History, gardens, views, culture, art, and birding are just some of the highlights to look forward to—get all our insider tips and picks. A new audio tour is now available as an app through your device. Using the app, visitors can travel through the many chapters of the island’s history. The National Park Service, Parks Conservancy, and Alcatraz Cruises have gone to great lengths to make this the Bay’s best socially distanced experience. Get your tickets here.


Have you had a chance to stroll along a StoryWalk in the parks or tune into a Nature Boost? If not, you’re in luck—the Parks Conservancy and San Francisco Public Library are extending our summer partnership into the fall! More Nature Boost episodes in a variety of languages will continue to be streamed on the Library’s YouTube channel.


As park sites reopen and visitors return, nothing is more important than making sure the parks are a welcoming environment for all. Together we can build an inclusive future in the parks that we can all be proud of. Please take some time to read our Open Letter: Black Lives Matter. For more on ways to be anti-racist in the outdoors, start with these updated resources to read, watch, and listen.


With the theme “Change and Resilience,” this year’s virtual One Tam climate summit will reach beyond the borders of Marin County to connect with the broader Bay Area parks community. With inspiring speakers, dynamic conversations, and self-guided field trips, we’ll explore local climate impacts in Marin, how climate change intersects with public health and equity, and our work with park partners to build a resilient future for our parks. This year’s summit will be offered as five online ticketed sessions, one session on every Thursday morning in October, 9 a.m.-Noon. Hope to see you there! 


If you missed the Art in the Parks project, Future IDs of Alcatraz, in the New Industries Building in 2019, you still have a chance to experience it for yourself! The powerful installation featured ID-inspired artwork by formerly incarcerated individuals that focused on their personal transformation and vision for their future. The project is now captured in the 9-minute film, “Reimaging Reentry Into Alcatraz”, recently released by A Blade of Grass. They hosted a virtual screening of the film, as well as a conversation with lead artist Gregory Sale and other partners about the impact of the installation. Watch the live recording here!


Visit the Hawk Hill and the Marin Headlands during peak raptor migration (late September – early October) and keep your eyes to the sky for any of the 19 raptor species counted during the annual Golden Gate Migration. A modified 2020 Hawkwatch means that part of Hawk Hill will be closed to the public during official count hours but the rest of Hawk Hill remains open and the birds will still be flying. If you decide to visit Hawk Hill, please remember your mask, practice social distancing, and keep clear of the marked Hawkwatch area so that Golden Gate Raptor Observatory staff and volunteers can continue to collect this important raptor migration data. Learn more about Hawk Hill partial closures. On October 28 at 7pm, join GGRO Director Allen Fish in a discussion with Marin Audobon Society for some of the best stories from Hawk Hill and the unique meaning of 2020 for long-term bird monitoring. Register here.


School’s back in session, and our park-themed activities from home offer an interactive way to learn about ecology and science. We’re talking coloring pages, craft projects, and trivia. And with online meetings still going strong, pick one (or more) of our free Zoom backgrounds to take your next call to the parks.


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