Fourteen acres of newly established parkland expands the heart of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and greater national park system.

overhead view of highway tunnel covered by parkland
Courtesy of James Corner Field Operations.

What’s being billed as one of the most anticipated attractions ever unveiled at the Presidio of San Francisco will officially begin welcoming enthusiastic visitors on July 17.

The all-new Presidio Tunnel Tops trace their roots back to 1993, when Bay Area citizens tasked with repairing the earthquake-damaged Doyle Drive first concocted the idea to build a tunneled highway covered by land that would unifying the previously divided Presidio national park site.

That idea, which officially got underway in 2014 via a design team competition, has at long last come to fruition in the form of 14 acres of newly established parkland that connects the heart of California’s Golden Gate National Recreation Area and greater national park system.

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Hiking trails, picnic areas, and scenic overlooks scattered throughout the park yield new views of the Golden Gate Bridge and downtown San Francisco that were previously unreachable, while surrounding the new parkland are gardens and meadows blanketed by approximately 180 plant species native to the Presidio region.

“Presidio Tunnel Tops is the result of a decade of community input and consultation with community organizations, health leaders, and park planners with the goal of making national park experiences easily accessible to all,” Presidio Trust officials wrote in a release. “The Council will develop innovative ways to incorporate art, culture, food, healing, wellness, and music into Presidio Tunnel Tops for opening season, so it feels like a welcoming and inclusive space.”

Free and open to all, the park, which was designed by James Corner Field Operations, includes a 2-acre area replete with naturally inspired play structures for children that have been modeled after fallen trunks, boulders, and other features unique to the area. Families with kids will also enjoy the indoor Field Station, where self-guided and programmed activities are designed to encourage engagement with the arts and sciences.

Additionally, accessibility to the site has been made easier thanks to the park’s transit and visitor centers, and numerous food options, a pavilion, and campfire circle ensure there will never be a shortage of cozy alternatives.

A full round-up of events, which will run from July through October, is expected to be announced shortly by the Partnership for the Presidio.

The collaboration that brought the Presidio Tunnel Tops from idea to natural beauty reality included the Presidio Trust, the National Park Service, and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy.

Learn more about the Tunnel Tops here.


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