National park tips: To get into Alcatraz, do some work in advance

The former federal penitentiary on Alcatraz Island is now part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
(Christopher Reynolds/ Los Angeles Times)

Alcatraz Island has been a tourist attraction for longer than it was a federal prison — 42 years versus 29 — and its popularity seems to be only growing.

Ferry tickets sell out weeks in advance, and they aren’t cheap; the round trip from Pier 33 costs about $35 per adult.

Here is where to book a spot on the ferry from San Francisco’s Embarcadero to the island.


The latest tour, Alcatraz Behind the Scenes, is said to be “physically strenuous” and takes four to five hours. The price: $87.50 per adult.

In honor of this year’s National Park Service centennial, the Travel section is posting 100 park travel ideas and tips based on trips staff travel writer Christopher Reynolds has taken, along with photo-op advice from Times photographer Mark Boster. We’ll post one per day through Dec. 31.

Follow Reynolds on Twitter: @MrCSReynolds

See travel videos by Reynolds from around the world.