Finding The 15 Best Abandoned Places In San Francisco In 2023

From abandoned mansions to shuttered military bases, San Francisco offers a wealth of fascinating locations for urban exploration. Below, we’ll take a deep dive into the 15 best abandoned places in San Francisco to discover in 2021, and no, one of those locations is not Alcatraz!

Killer Urbex Note: It is important to note that many of these locations are in an extremely delicate state. Specifics on the locations are not given purposefully to ensure the abandoned places in San Francisco stay as vandalism and destruction-free as possible. Take only photos, leave only footprints.

Interested in venturing outside San Francisco? Here are a few guides to California and surrounding states that will be helpful in your explorations outside of the wonderful abandoned places in San Francisco:

If you have a specific location from the list below that you would like to immediately get more information about, click the links in the list to snap straight to that abandoned places in San Francisco location.

The Best Abandoned Places in San Francisco

Treasure Island

Treasure Island
Abandoned places in San Francisco image by Radoslaw Lecyk via Shutterstock

This man-made island in San Francisco Bay is named for the famous book by Robert Louis Stevenson, who briefly lived in the city in the late 1800s. It was initially constructed to host the Golden Gate International Exhibition in 1939, with developers importing thousands of tons of quarried rock as well as roughly 50,000 cubic yards of topsoil to support landscaping.

At its grand opening on February 18, 1939, the island featured vast fairgrounds, a $1.5 million Federal Building, an $800,000 administration building, a Hall of Western States, multiple industry exhibition halls and two aircraft hangars as well as a 12,000-car parking lot.

After the World’s Fair, the island was originally intended to become a second airport for the City of San Francisco, but with World War II raging in the Pacific, the determination was made to convert it into a Naval Station. A Naval Auxiliary Air Facility on the base provided maintenance and repairs for a fleet of airplanes, helicopters, seaplanes, blimps and other aircraft.

Naval ships docked at the island for cleaning and decontamination, resulting in toxic levels of radioactive materials leaching into the soil. The station also processed more than 12,000 men daily on their way to assignments in the Pacific, and somewhat chillingly, the base’s psychiatric ward was used for studies and experiments on sailors who had been discharged from the service due to their homosexuality.

Treasure Island
Abandoned places in San Francisco image by Mark Schwettmann via Shutterstock

The base on Treasure Island (not to be confused with Treasure Island Las Vegas) remained active through the Korean and Vietnam Wars; during peacetime, it also became a popular location for movie sets, including Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and The Matrix. The base itself closed in 1997, and the island was eventually sold to private developers in the late 2000s.

However, the problem of contaminated soil and leftover radioactive waste hampered plans for redevelopment, with the Navy removing at least 16,000 cubic yards of toxic topsoil by 2010.

A plan was announced in 2011 to transform the island by adding 8,000 residences, dozens of hotels and shops and substantial office space at a cost of roughly $5 billion. After the original investors abandoned the project, a second group offered a more modest redevelopment proposal, which is still under construction nearly a decade later.

Meanwhile, crumbling, graffiti-festooned remnants of the old Treasure Island still stand ready to be explored, including two hangars, an exposition hall and the “Magic Carpet” Great Lawn. Overall, this location easily made our list of the best abandoned places in San Francisco.

Fleishhacker Pool

Fleishhacker Pool
Abandoned places in San Francisco image by Marc Tarlock via Wikimedia Commons

Hidden under the asphalt of the San Francisco Zoo’s parking lot, you’ll find one of the city’s little-known landmarks: a public swimming pool that was once the largest saltwater pool in the world.

Named for its benefactor, the philanthropist and city parks commissioner Herbert Fleishhacker, the pool was built in 1924. More than 6 million gallons of chilly salt water were brought in from the nearby Pacific Ocean and heated to a tolerable 65 to 75 degrees.

With a 10,000-swimmer capacity, the pool measured 1,000 feet by 150 feet and was so massive, it required lifeguards to use rowboats for their patrols. In addition to its popularity among area residents, the pool was also regularly used for military drills and exercises.

Fleishhacker Pool
Abandoned places in San Francisco image by kapshure via Flickr

Over the years, the funds required to maintain the enormous facility began to wither, and the pool was already in a state of decline when a storm destroyed a drainage pipe in 1971. The city then converted it to a freshwater pool, but the water quality was insufficient for safe use, and the facility was shuttered later that year.

The abandoned pool sat dormant for nearly three decades, until the San Francisco Zoological Society filled the gigantic basin with rocks and gravel to serve as a parking lot for the zoo. The once-lavish pool house remained standing, its walls covered in graffiti, its roof collapsing and its rooms occupied by raccoons, rats and the occasional vagrant.

In December 2012, a fire consumed nearly all of the remaining structure, leaving only a small fragment of its original architecture consisting of three ornate portals, a sad occurrence for what was once one of the best abandoned places in San Francisco to explore.

Sutro Baths

Sutro Baths
Abandoned places in San Francisco image by Suzette Leg Anthony via Shutterstock

These once-resplendent recreational pools have been reduced to mere shadows along the California coast at Point Lobos, but what remains of the Sutro Baths still offers a fascinating opportunity for exploration.

The baths were the brainchild of German immigrant Adolf Sutro, an engineer who made his wealth during the mid-19th century gold rush and ultimately became mayor of his adopted city of San Francisco. His mission was to provide affordable, family-friendly entertainment to his constituents, and he began acquiring vast swaths of land as part of his vision.

On 22 acres of oceanfront property, he built extensive public gardens, renovated the Cliff House into the iconic Victorian mansion known today and completed the luxurious public baths, which began as a modest “aquarium” and ultimately morphed into a three-acre recreational complex.

Sutro Baths
Abandoned places in San Francisco image by Tyna Chenoweth via Shutterstock

Construction of the six tide-fed saltwater pools called for 10,000 barrels of cement and 1.7 million gallons of water at a cost of $1 million. The facility also included displays of the artifacts and souvenirs Sutro collected in his global travels, including rare plants, geological specimens, wildlife taxidermy and even several mummies from Egypt. Five hundred dressing rooms and bleacher seating for 3,700 rounded out the baths’ amenities.

The baths enjoyed enormous popularity in their early years, but operational costs began to mount. The addition of an ice rink in the 1930s only added to the financial burden, and the facility closed permanently in the 1950s. It was slated to be torn down in 1966, but before demolition began, a suspicious fire gutted the complex. The land was later acquired by the National Park Service.

Today, visitors to one of the best abandoned places in San Francisco can still make out what’s left of the deep diving pool, where ladder fixtures and patches of faded blue paint have survived decades of exposure to the salty sea air. The building’s concrete foundation still juts out of the earth, and a cave tunnel runs under the mountain, offering glimpses of the submerged channels.

16th Street Station

16th Street Station
Abandoned places in San Francisco image by ktao via Shutterstock

This historic landmark in Oakland was once one of the city’s three grand train stations, where thousands of immigrants arrived to chase the American Dream and local commuters caught their connections to work and home. Completed in 1912, the 16th Street Station featured a track for the Southern Pacific Railroad on its ground level and the East Bay Electric Line’s elevated railway above it.

The magnificent Beaux-Arts-influenced design of the building made it one of downtown Oakland’s crown jewels, and the electric train that departed the station was famous for its path along the lower deck of the Bay Bridge as it headed into San Francisco.

16th Street Station
Abandoned places in San Francisco image by Tyrone Refden via Shutterstock

As rail ridership declined in the mid-20th century, the station fell into disrepair, and its fate was sealed after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake that rattled the city and irreparably damaged the building’s structural integrity, dooming the 16th Street Station to yet another location on our list of abandoned places in San Francisco.

After sitting vacant for several decades, the site was ultimately redeveloped as a private event space, but it retained much of the gritty urban quality it acquired during its years of disuse. Much of the graffiti and other industrial trappings were preserved, making it a unique destination for urban explorers and one of the best abandoned places in San Francisco.

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The Bayshore Roundhouse

The Bayshore Roundhouse
Abandoned places in San Francisco image by Jules Fairley via Shutterstock

Reflecting San Francisco’s rich history as a western railroad hub, Southern Pacific’s Bayshore Roundhouse was completed in 1910 to serve as a junction between San Francisco and San Bruno. The Roundhouse provided repairs and maintenance for freight engines, with a massive turntable to facilitate the movement of trains in and out of the facility.

With an original diameter of 80 feet, the turntable was expanded to 110 feet in 1941 to accommodate the growing size of Southern Pacific’s steam engines. At its peak, the Bayshore Roundhouse featured 40 engine stalls, employed 3,000 workers and serviced more than 40,000 trains per year.

With the advent of the diesel engine in the 1950s, the Roundhouse descended into obsolescence, since diesel engines do not require a turntable for servicing. In 1958, the facility was converted from a repair yard into a diesel engine storage facility, and in 1982, it closed altogether.

The Bayshore Roundhouse
Abandoned places in San Francisco image by LPS.1 via Wikipedia

Many of the auxiliary buildings and the surrounding tracks were demolished and removed, but the Roundhouse itself remained, much to the delight of graffiti artists and curiosity-seekers. A 2001 fire consumed most of the roof, but the majority of the structure survived, and in 2010 it was included on the National Register of Historic Places as the last remaining brick roundhouse in the state.

Over the years, various proposals to redevelop the property fizzled, in part due to the challenge of remediating contamination on the site. The most recent plan wouldn’t see construction begin until 2028 or beyond, leaving plenty of time for urban explorers to check the crumbling structure off their bucket list of abandoned places in San Francisco.

The Shipwrecks at Land’s End

The Shipwrecks at Land’s End
Abandoned places in San Francisco image by Hollandog via Shutterstock

Thanks to its rocky coast, powerful tides and famously thick fog cover, San Francisco Bay has become a magnet for shipwrecks over the centuries, with more than 300 ships meeting their demise in its choppy waters since the Gold Rush of the 1850s.

The skeletons of many of these vessels still sit undisturbed beneath the waves, and in low tide, three remain visible to urban explorers: The Lyman Stewart, the Ohioan and the Frank Buck, a super interesting addition to our list of abandoned places in San Francisco.

The Ohioan, a cargo ship that was converted for U.S. Navy use during World War I, became stranded near Seal Rock on a foggy morning in October 1936. The Coast Guard arrived to rescue the crew, but they opted to remain onboard in hopes that the coming high tide might unmoor the vessel.

Crowds gathered along the coast for several days to watch as multiple approaches attempted to free the ship, but nothing worked, and it was ultimately abandoned in the spot where it ran aground.

The Shipwrecks at Land’s End
Abandoned places in San Francisco image by Terrain 360

Both the Lyman Stewart and Frank Buck were tankers from the same shipyard; the bay claimed the former in 1922 and the latter 15 years later. Dynamite was used in 1938 to dislodge some of the ships’ remains, but both engines can still be seen in the water when the tide is low.

Though visible only to divers, the wreckage of the City of Rio de Janeiro marks the site of the worst marine disaster in the bay, and a great difficult to get to abandoned places in San Francisco option.

In 1901, the ship arrived in the region from its launch in Hong Kong, but dense fog sent it careening into the Mile Rock with devastating force. It sank within eight minutes of crashing, taking two-thirds of the passengers onboard to their watery graves, including Captain William Ward.

Eighty-two passengers survived by clinging to wreckage until a fisherman came to their rescue. The tragedy dragged on for weeks as bodies continued to wash ashore at Fort Point, and the Mile Rock lighthouse was ultimately erected in their memory to help prevent similar tragedies in the future. With ample places to explore, this is easily one of the most interesting abandoned places in San Francisco.

Fort Miley

Fort Miley
Abandoned places in San Francisco image by Corey Seamer via Shutterstock

Situated on Point Lobos, this once-vast military installation is a shadow of its former self, but the remains of large guns and other defensive accouterments hidden in the surrounding woods remain a delightful discovery for adventurous hikers and urban explorers.

Conceived in the late 19th century as the City of San Francisco’s primary point of defense, Fort Miley was built on the site of a massive cemetery with tens of thousands of graves, each neatly subdivided into sections based on ethnic and cultural ties.

Though the federal government had promised the previous landowners the bodies would be relocated in a dignified manner, later discoveries proved that commitment to be hollow. Still, construction began in 1898, with three 12-inch guns added over the next five years along with multiple buildings and the surrounding fort.

Fort Miley
Abandoned places in San Francisco image by Tom Hilton via Flickr

In the 1930s, most of the original buildings were removed to allow for construction of a large Veterans Administration Hospital, although the guns remained on-site through the end of World War II. Today, the vacant gun batteries and one building still stand on the site, which has been incorporated into the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Based on discoveries made during a 1990s construction project, it’s clear most of the original occupants of the cemetery are still interred on the property, suggesting the federal government did little more than remove the headstones in its rush to complete the fort. In the end, this is yet another location on our list of abandoned places in San Francisco.

Presidio Pet Cemetery

Presidio Pet Cemetery
Abandoned places in San Francisco image by Paul Kuroda / Special to The Chronicle

This peaceful hillside site is the final resting place for hundreds of pets who crossed the rainbow bridge while their owners were stationed at the Presidio, a former U.S. Army post along San Francisco Bay.

The inscriptions on more than 400 tiny tombstones are bound to elicit a smile, memorializing treasured companions of the feline, canine, bird, rodent, fish and reptile species, including “Mr. Iguana” and “Woody, One Great Wiener Dog.”

Presidio Pet Cemetery
Abandoned places in San Francisco image by Bunky’s Pickle via Flickr

Though its beginnings are largely undocumented, the cemetery project seems to have been led by 6th Army Commander Lt. Colonel Swing, who directed army engineers to design and landscape the site at the end of McDowell Avenue.

Though the memorial park has fallen into disrepair over the years, with headstones leaning precariously into the overgrown underbrush, volunteers have consistently shown up to restore and maintain the quirky yet popular attraction. This is easily one of the creepiest and best abandoned places in San Francisco.

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Byron Hot Springs Hotel

Byron Hot Springs Hotel
Abandoned places in San Francisco image by TWO40SX via Reddit | AbandonedPorn

This abandoned property in the tiny town of Byron has been repurposed multiple times over its 150-year history. The region’s healing hot springs were a staple of Bolbones Indian culture until they were discovered (and appropriated) by white settlers in the 1700s, and the springs soon became a popular stopping point along the busy fur trade route.

The parcel where the hotel was eventually built was part of a 160-acre land patent filed in 1863 by the Risdon family. The land was later sold to the Mead family, who built a hotel on the site in 1889. The hotel was destroyed in a 1901 fire and quickly rebuilt, only to burn down again in 1912.

A new hotel rose from the ashes the following year, drawing crowds of wealthy guests and celebrities who wanted to experience the therapeutic benefits of the warm waters that sprang from the ground. The third iteration of the hotel closed in 1938 due to legal issues and the death of its founder, Lewis Mead.

Not long afterward, the shuttered hotel was converted into Camp Tracy, a military camp where German and Japanese prisoners of war were interrogated during World War II. Between 1941 and 1945, more than 1,500 prisoners were shuffled through the property, and despite their enemy status, they were permitted access to the hot springs.

Byron Hot Springs Hotel
Abandoned places in San Francisco image by via The Sacramento Bee

In 1946, the U.S. government sold the property to the Greek Orthodox Church, who repurposed it as a monastery—Mission St. Paul—for the next decade until shutting it down in 1956. Over the subsequent half-century, the parcel was bought and sold by dozens of developers with big plans to revive it as a resort destination.

For a variety of reasons (bankruptcy, financial challenges, economic downturns, political forces and personal illness), none of the developers has managed to bring their plans to fruition, and the crumbling building and the overgrown land surrounding it have become little more than a notorious local eyesore.

The four-story brick structure has been completely gutted, its windows bereft of glass and its interiors blanketed with trash, dust and debris from falling brick, crumbling concrete and rotting wood.

The elevator has been removed, leaving only an empty shaft. All materials of value, including the marble that once adorned the grand staircase, have been stripped away by scavengers. Crude graffiti has been splashed across the walls, both inside and outside.

The parcel is surrounded by a dilapidated barbed-wire fence that has clearly been easy for trespassers to breach, and the spray-painted warning sign that reads “Danger – No Trespassing” has done little to deter unwanted visitors to the private property.

Hunter’s Point Shipyard

Hunter's Park Shipyard
Abandoned places in San Francisco image by via The Bold Italic

This former commercial and military shipyard sits on 638 waterfront acres in southeast San Francisco. It was established as a commercial facility in 1870, with two graving docks for ship repair and maintenance.

The Union Iron Works company bought the property in the late 19th century and used it to spur the company’s evolution from manufacturing mining, railroad and farming equipment into being primarily a shipbuilding enterprise. The company—and the shipyard—were taken over by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Company in 1905.

The site became known as “The World’s Greatest Shipping Yard,” and President Theodore Roosevelt reportedly sent his fleet of battleships there for servicing in 1907.

The U.S. Navy acquired the shipyard in 1940, and it operated as the San Francisco Naval Shipyard until 1974, when it was deactivated and rebranded as Hunters Point Naval Shipyard.

After about a decade of commercial use, the facility was reactivated by the Navy in 1986 and served as the U.S.S. Missouri battle group’s home port. During this time, the property was known as Treasure Island Naval Station Hunters Point Annex.  

During the 1991 Base Realignment and Closure initiative, the base was identified as redundant and closed for good three years later. In the nearly three decades since its decommissioning, the government has been steadily working to remediate the Superfund-designated property and remove materials contaminated by industrial and radiological use.

Hunter's Park Shipyard
Abandoned places in San Francisco image by via The Bold Italic

However, hundreds of acres of land at Hunter’s Point remain surrounded by barbed-wire fencing that sports bright yellow signs warning visitors of radioactive contamination created by the site’s years as the Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory.

The shipyard was used to manufacture critical components for the nation’s first atomic bomb, which were transferred from Hunter’s Point via the U.S.S. Indianapolis in 1945. Additionally, the property contained multiple coal- and oil-fired power generation facilities, all of which poured contaminants into the surrounding soil, water and air.  

In 2018, employees of Tetra Tech, the private company awarded a multimillion-dollar contract to conduct the cleanup, pleaded guilty to falsifying documents and other allegations of fraud surrounding the work at Hunter’s Point. At that point, the Navy determined all remediation work performed at the site would need to be redone.

Today, cleanup efforts continue, although the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) put a pause on any additional land transfers for public or private development, citing the need to clarify the “actual potential public exposure to radioactive material” at the site.

The Wreck of the King Philip

The Wreck of the King Philip
Abandoned places in San Francisco image by Broke Ass Stuart

Built in 1856, the King Philip’s brief, ill-fated existence spanned a mere 22 years, marked by multiple mutinies, fires and eventually, a shipwreck that ended its days on the high seas.

In January 1878, the vessel had just been outfitted with new sails and rigging and departed dry dock attached to a tugboat that would steer the ship through the choppy waters of the bay. The tug was called to assist with an emergency on a nearby vessel, so the crew of the King Philip dropped anchor to wait for the tugboat to return.

Unfortunately, the anchor was not secured sufficiently to hold the ship, and it ran aground at Ocean Beach. All crew members were able to safely evacuate the ship, but the King Philip was too damaged for repair and was sold for scrap at auction the following day.  

In an effort to access the 40 tons of iron and valuable brass and copper fixings on the ship, its new owners attempted to blow it up with roughly 1,400 pounds of dynamite, drawing hundreds of spectators to witness the spectacle.

The Wreck of the King Philip
Abandoned places in San Francisco image by Brocken Inaglory via Wikimedia Commons

After two failed explosions, they abandoned the defunct clipper where it was lodged in the sand, and where it has remained ever since.

The deteriorating vessel disappeared from view for several decades until another ship wrecked in the same location in 1902. Both wrecks were re-buried in 1910 when dunes were cleared to allow for construction of the Great Highway.

The King Philip briefly re-emerged in 1982 and again in 2007, when sewer construction in Ocean Beach covered the wreck in additional sediment. It has been seen a handful of times over the last decade, and visitors’ best chance to catch a glimpse of the ship’s skeleton is during the early morning hours at extremely low tide.

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Albion Castle

Albion Castle San Francisco
Abandoned places in San Francisco image by Todd Lappin via Flickr

For more than 150 years, this six-story stone structure has been practically hidden in plain sight, with many San Francisco residents completely oblivious to its very existence.

The castle was built by English immigrant John Hamlin Burnell in 1870, meant to serve as both his personal residence and a site for a commercial brewery. An underground aquifer on the property supplied the brewery with fresh, pristine water at no cost, giving Burnell a competitive edge over the other breweries battling for the business of more than 800 saloons in the bustling city.

The structure was designed to resemble the historic Norman castles of Western Europe, with a central tower constructed from cargo ship ballast stones. The residence included four bedrooms, two bathrooms, multiple patios and terraces and a spacious central courtyard.

The building also contained work space for the Albion Porter & Ale Brewery, and under the castle, Burnell fashioned two 200-foot stone cisterns that could hold up to 10,000 gallons of spring water from the aquifer. A cave entrance provided access to the twin pools, which continue to capture pure, clean spring water to this day.

Albion Castle San Francisco
Abandoned places in San Francisco image by Albion Castle (Courtesy of)

When Prohibition shut down the brewery’s operations in 1919, the company rebranded as the Albion Water Company, bottling fresh drinking water from the underground source until 1947. During that period, the castle was purchased by artist Adrian Voisin, who renovated the residence to incorporate the fine woodwork and medieval décor that remains in place today.

The castle narrowly evaded destruction as part of a highway construction project in 1961, based on the premise that the underground aquifer could provide the city with a source of clean water in case of a nuclear attack, an argument that made sense at the height of the Cold War.

Sculptor Eric Higgs bought the property in 1998, using it as a residence, studio and event space. He sold it at auction for $2.1 million in 2005 to a group of Napa County investors who planned to resurrect the historic Albion Brewery on the site.

The proposal never came to fruition, and it was sold again in 2012 to real estate magnate and former San Francisco police officer Bill Gilbert. Since then, the castle has been used sporadically for small private events, although there has been some discussion of resurrecting the water bottling business to take advantage of the fresh water source on site.

Land’s End Octagon House

Land's End Octagon House
Abandoned places in San Francisco image by Place Roots

Obscured by a thicket of trees in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, this distinctively-shaped structure was once known as the Point Lobos Marine Exchange Lookout Station. It was built in 1927 as part of the communication system first established during the 19th-century Gold Rush.

The operator of the lookout station was tasked with watching for approaching ships and relaying their arrival to the stevedores, taxis, tug boats and drayage companies at the distant Embarcadero. The system relied on semaphores, with the signal arms at Point Lobos adjusted to represent the type of incoming ship.

A station in the Presidio would spot the signal via telescope and relay it to another station at Loma Alto. Additionally, the Point Lobos lookout station also watched for distressed vessels in the rough Golden Gate waters.

The station’s octagonal shape represented a popular Victorian trend, made mainstream by New York phrenologist Orson Squire Fowler in his book The Octagon House: A Home For All, or A New, Cheap, Convenient, and Superior Mode of Building.

Land's End Octagon House
Abandoned places in San Francisco image by David Peskovitz via Boing Boing

The book lauded the design’s advantages, which included effective use of internal space, minimized building materials and panoramic views, a benefit that definitely suited the lookout station’s purpose.

The lookout lived with his family in the residence on the first floor of the tower, and even after the station was decommissioned in the mid-20th century, was permitted to remain in the home in lieu of a pension. After he died in 1975, the city honored the agreement for his widow, who continued to live there until 2002.

The defunct station has now been vacant for nearly two decades, and its cream-colored exterior is splashed with brightly-colored graffiti. The National Park Service intends to restore it eventually, but for now it remains empty.

Though it once offered unobstructed views of the waterfront, trees planted after its decommissioning make it challenging to find. Visitors can follow signage for Fort Miley and take the access road left of the main trail, which leads to the old octagonal building.

J’s Amusement Park Guerneville

J’s Amusement Park Guerneville
Abandoned places in San Francisco image by Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat

When it opened in the 1960s, J’s Amusement Park in Guerneville was a modest but popular family-owned theme park. For the better part of four decades, founder Jay Skaggs and his son Michael operated a roller coaster, go-kart track and a handful of other attractions on the property.

When the park closed in 2003, the family opened a well-equipped campground facility on the adjacent parcel. The Camp Outback featured spacious shower facilities, a hot tub, a zip line and fire pits as well as other amenities, and the campground did booming business among visitors as well as locals, who used it to stage multi-day events like Lazy Bear Weekend and “Dr. Evil’s House of Horrors” during the Halloween season.

Code violations and rising costs forced the Skaggs to shutter the camp after the 2015 season, at which point the property was fully abandoned, leaving behind the skeletons of the Mouse Trap roller coaster, Tilt-A-Whirl, go-kart race track and large water slide as well as the defunct camping facilities.

J’s Amusement Park Guerneville
Abandoned places in San Francisco image by Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat

The property continued to deteriorate due to weather and vandalism over the next several years, but in 2019 it was identified by a San Francisco-based event production company as the perfect site for a luxury “glamping” resort. Under the working title “River Electric,” the resort was envisioned with a 60-foot round pool at its center ringed by a vast lawn and lounging deck.

Cabana-like tents, lawn games and a pool house with bathroom and changing facilities were also part of the design, in addition to a general store and an overnight lodging section featuring around 40 of the company’s high-end canvas tents.

Though some initial demolition work was reported to have taken place, the resort concept has yet to be completed.

Mare Island Naval Shipyard

Mare Island Naval Shipyard
Abandoned places in San Francisco image by Jim Feliciano via Shutterstock

Established in the 1850s, Mare Island Naval Shipyard was the first U.S. Navy base located on the Pacific Ocean. It eventually became the top submarine port on the west coast as well as the center of shipbuilding efforts in the San Francisco Bay area during World War II.

The Navy purchased the initial 956 acres of the site in 1853 and began shipbuilding work there the following year. It functioned as an important west coast repair station throughout the century, servicing Japanese and Russian ships as well as American vessels.

It was also used as a launching point for civil defense and emergency response fleets, particularly during conflicts with Native Americans in the western U.S. and during the Spanish-American War.

In 1911, the U.S. Marine Corps established a West Coast recruit training depot at Mare Island, where instructors trained recruits until the operation was relocated to San Diego in 1923. Base operations expanded during World War II, and the facility included a hospital, ammunition depot, testing laboratories and training schools for various specialties.

As many as 50,000 military and civilian workers were located there at the height of the conflict, many of whom were employed in shipbuilding and the repair, overhaul and maintenance of a wide range of marine vessels.

Mare Island Naval Shipyard
Abandoned places in San Francisco image by Joshua Hawley via Shutterstock

The Mare Island Naval Shipyard was decommissioned in 1996 as part of the Base Realignment and Closure initiative in the early 1990s. Over its impressive lifetime, the facility grew to encompass more than 5,200 acres and produced more than 500 naval vessels along with maintaining and repairing thousands more.

Much of the abandoned property has been transferred for private civilian use, with parcels leased by the California Conservation Corps, Touro University California and other commercial and industrial companies.

Several other government agencies, including the Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service and Department of Education are in the process of locating facilities on the former base, and an Army Reserve Center and Coast Guard communications facility are also planned for the site.

However, many of the buildings on the island remain eerily vacant, with broken windows and the occasional snarl of graffiti the only indications of recent human activity in the area.

Despite signs hanging on the chain-link fence that warn trespassers to stay off the government-owned property, it has become a popular destination for urban explorers interested in viewing this massive former military option now seemingly frozen in time.

Our Final Thoughts on Abandoned Places in San Francisco

Those who are into urban exploration in the Bay area, and wanting to explore abandoned places in San Francisco, should get comfortable with California trespassing laws. Luckily, in the state of California, the laws are easy to understand and are pretty cut and dry.

For these cases, you should familiarize yourself with our guide to California trespassing laws. For more about obtaining permission to explore abandoned places in San Francisco, check out our guide Explore Abandoned Buildings: How To Get Permission.

Additional Urban Exploration Resources

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