Angel Island State Park

Angel Island's Haunting History and Lush Beauty

We embarked on the ferry in Tiburon to Angel Island State Park, an island in the heart of San Francisco Bay. Despite the overcast sky, the ferry ride offered breathtaking panoramas of San Francisco. On the island, we were welcomed by magnificent mountaintop vistas and lush greenery of ancient oak trees.

For millennia, the Coast Miwok people called Angel Island home, utilizing it as a site for fishing and hunting. In 1775, explorer Juan Manuel de Ayala christened the island “Isla de Los Angeles” (Island of the Angels) upon anchoring in Ayala Cove. This marked the start of several different utilizations of the island. From a Mexican ranch, it transformed into a U.S. military post (1863-1946). Over time, it also served as a bay defense site (1954-1963). The island was also used as a quarantine station (1891-1946), immigration station (1910-1940), and detention center during World War II. In 1955, California bought 37 acres on Angel Island, creating the Angel Island State Park.


A less friendly atmosphere appeared at Fort McDowell. With its wind, water, and salty spray, nature was reclaiming this abandoned town, creating an eerie, almost dystopian atmosphere. Visiting the immigration and detention centers also caused a sense of unease. These concrete structures told about a dark period in American history I wasn’t unaware of. Chinese immigrants faced interrogation and confinement within these very barracks. During World War II, over 110,000 U.S. residents and citizens of Japanese descent were considered a threat after the Pearl Harbor attack and relocated to internment camps, including this one on Angel Island.

In 1997, the Angel Island Immigration Station became a National Historic Landmark. This designation underscores the importance of protecting this physical reminder of a sobering, complex immigration process. It also offers an opportunity to learn about the often-overlooked struggles of immigrants who came and were part of shaping American society.


Sunday, November 5, 2023


8.53 miles

Moving Time

3:23:04 hours


71 °F, gentle breeze, cloudy