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The only option to access the island is by purchasing a ticket through Alcatraz Cruises, a private company contracted with the National Park Service. The ticket includes both the admission to tour the island as well as the round trip ferry ride.
The daytime tours are mostly self-guided. The night tours (usually offered Thursday through Monday) include a narrated cruise around the island as well as a guided tour on the island. However, some areas of the island are not accessible at night for safety reasons. It's recommended to allot about 2 to 3 hours to spend on the island. Visitors can take any return ferry ride, which leave approximately every half hour.
The ferry departs from Pier 33. On street parking in the area can be difficult to find, especially during peak summer visitation season, and nearly every street space has a parking meter with a time limit insufficient for an Alcatraz visit. An "Accessibility Drop Off Zone" is located at the entrance to Alcatraz Cruises - Pier 33 for visitors with special needs arriving by automobile. There are fifteen commercial lots within a five-block radius of the Alcatraz Cruises - Pier 33, with a total of more than 3,000 parking spaces. However we recommend public transportation if at all possible. Be aware that prices for parking in this area can vary greatly, as little as $8-10 for all day, to as high as $6 an hour. As a visit to Alcatraz can easily take 2 to 3 hours (or more) it can be worth while to shop around for parking. It is even better to take public transportation when possible - access the pier via the Muni F Line.
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