16 National Parks Near San Francisco

Photo: National Park Service

When listing national park sites, San Francisco rarely comes up in the discussion. You may be surprised that the northern California city harbors many places managed by the National Park Service (NPS). 

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How can places of such natural beauty or historical significance possibly elude your travel bucket list? Like the fog that spreads over the bay, it is a mystery. Let’s see if we can change that! 

Photo: National Park Service

Let's check out parks in the greater San Francisco Bay Area, consisting of national park sites, historical parks, trails, national seashores, and memorials. Then we'll venture a few hours outside of San Francisco, you can visit some of America’s best full-fledged national parks.

Photo: NPS / Rick Cain

The rugged but beautiful park comprises lush forests, coastal grasslands, dunes, beaches, and historic structures. It teems with wildlife, including many birds and fish, elephant seals, migrating gray whales, and tule elk.

Point Reyes National Seashore


Photo: NPS/Anela Ramos Kopshever

Once on the island, you can tour the prison grounds and cells. The NPS offers an audio tour where you hear commentary from former prisoners, guards, and wardens. It brings the eerie prison halls to life as you explore.

Alcatraz Island


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A 4-hour drive north of San Francisco, Lassen Volcanic National Park is known for volcanoes, steaming fumaroles, crystal-clear mountain lakes, and wildflower-filled meadows. The seasons significantly impact your visit, but the park is gorgeous year-round.

Lassen Volcanic  National Park


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Nestled in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Yosemite National Park is a 4-hour drive east of San Francisco. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for granite cliffs, cascading waterfalls, deep valleys, grand meadows, and ancient giant sequoias. It is a treasure trove of natural wonders.

Yosemite National Park


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A 5-hour drive southeast of San Francisco, Sequoia National Park sits in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The park is renowned for having some of the world’s largest trees. Its namesake trees may not be as tall as coastal redwoods, but sequoias grow more significant in diameter.

Sequoia National Park


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Photo: National Park Service