Colorful Shades of the Historic Alviso State Park

Sorry folks! I couldn’t post the last few months, as I got infected with COVID, and it took me some time to fully recover. Now that I am healthy again and have some time, I will be posting some of my travel experiences in the US. One such place is the lovely park named “The Alviso State Park” in the Bay Area, California.

Railway tracks next to the Alviso park. My favorite spot for Sunrise!

The Alviso State Park is a hidden gem right in the heart of the Bay Area, California, surrounded by the Bay waters and the Mission peak at the backdrop. When I first discovered this park (5 years ago), I was astonished by the peace and tranquility it offered. I was immediately drawn to the mother nature, as the scenes were so breathtaking and good for the soul. This park was literally 10 minutes away from where I stayed, and this presented me with countless opportunities for photography during the sunrise and sunset. In this blog, I am sharing some of the memorable moments of the golden hour during my countless visits to this park. I will also share some of the history behind this park.

Mirror like scenes of nature. When the conditions are right, the water is so calm, that it reflects everything the sky offers.

The park is ideal for landscape photography (my department), hiking, biking, kayaking, and fishing. The park offers several miles of trails nestled in the marshlands, and is home to many migratory shore birds. The park features foaming waters of salt ponds, and beautiful cool breeze that help you relax away from the bustling streets of Bay Area. The park gives out a beautiful rustic vibe with all the railroads and weathered mini ports along the walking path. The salt ponds offer a unique scenery, where the mission peak is reflected onto the waters, creating a mirror like scenes of nature. This usually happens at the Dawn when the there is no wind, the water is so still that it looks like a large mirror.

Local train passing by the park

Alviso is a tidal wetland, where the motion of tides mixes freshwater outflows of the Guadalupe River with Saltwater inflows of the San Francisco Bay. This unique mix of environment creates rich micronutrients supporting wide variety of life, including plants, fish, birds, and mammals.

Train on a cloudy day

The Alviso park boasts rich history. Alviso is named for Ignacio Alviso, a soldier in the 1776 de Anza expedition to California. In 1838, he was granted Rincon de los Esteros, a large rancho at the edge of the South Bay, where he established Embarcadero de Santa Clara. Much of the rancho was then sold to American Businessmen, who founded the actual town. Alviso has been home to multi-ethnic community associated with south bay canning, mining, salt harvesting, and agriculture.

Marina boat launch area covered with golden sunset

Alviso’s marina today starkly contrasts with its past as a bustling seaport. In the mid-19th century, Alviso was a transportation hub through which crops, goods, and people circulated, fueling the economic growth of the South Bay. Because of its location at the mouth of the Gaudalupe River, Alviso was deemed the ideal location for seaport. In the 1830s and 40s, it was only port where raw materials and crops could be shipped from the Santa Clara valley to San Francisco. Following the Gold Rush of 1849, steamships also provided passenger access to San Francisco.

A family go for kayaking during a beautiful Sunset

A series of events, however, diminished Alviso’s prospects. Relocation of state capitol from San Jose to Sacramento in the 1850s caused a decline in growth in the South Bay. The completion of the Southern Pacific Coast Railroad in 1864 brought end to water transportation. Port activity in Alviso eventually ceased under the strain of flooding and after the rise of railroads for commerce.

Alviso’s identity shifted to its new role as a managed wetland. This provides a critical habitat for migratory birds and contributes to the environmental health of the bay.

Silhouettes of birds from the first light
Work in progress- Birds trying to find the dinner
Foamy water and stunning sunset

Beginning with the Ohlone people, who harvested salt for local use and regional trade, small scale salt production on SF Bay area expanded into one of the largest industrial solar evaporation complexes in the world. Salt production transformed the South Bay landscape and contributed to the loss of more than 85 percent of the rich tidal marshes that once surrounded the Bay. However, the salt ponds also now serve as feeding and resting habitat for shorebirds and ducks migrating on the Pacific Flyway.

Couple enjoying the golden sunset
Glorious sunrise behind the mission peak
Magic in the air- Sunset at Alviso
Sunset colors throughout the scene
Man with his tripod to capture sunset at the park
Bridge connecting the parking lot and the trails
Beautiful sunset at the marina
Train reflection on a winter morning
Incredible sunrise reflections
Time well spent for introspection
Enjoying the stunning sunset
Shades of sunset colors and foaming water
Day I received the citation for parking violation – Stunning colors of sunset
Precious moments of time at Alviso
Perfect reflection of Mission Peak – Sunrise
Railway tracks – A level playground, but don’t stand longer

One thing to remember, the park closes sharply after the sunset, and the ranger reminds you over to move out of the park, if not an expensive citation are a norm. I myself have received a citation for overstaying in the park, due to some spectacular sunsets. So to avoid any parking issues with the ranger, locals know that it is wise to park outside the gates of the park, so to avoid any costly citation.

The YouTube video I share above shows some of the most beautiful light and the time-lapse of sunrise and sunsets I encountered in the park. Please have look! Thanks for your attention.

27 thoughts on “Colorful Shades of the Historic Alviso State Park

  1. Wow.. Awesome!!! Wonderful captures of the lovely shades of colors!! Loved the pic of the train on a cloudy day, a perfect shot!! Glad to hear that you fully recovered and are back to photography!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Mitch Teemley and commented:
    My Featured Bloggers this week (yes, two!) are Vignesh and Vathani of Soopertravelers. Although they’re from India, their love of travel takes them far and wide, in this case to my home state of California. But they don’t just travel, Vignesh and Vathani capture exquisite images of the places they visit. Need proof? Just gaze at the gallery of stunning images from Aviso State Park below!


  3. Wow! These images are beautiful! Thank-you for sharing them with us and also for sharing about Alviso State Park. I hadn’t known about that one yet, but have added it to my bucket list now. ^_^


  4. I always neglected East Bay region of San Francisco in favor of the more touristy Pacific beachfront side. hank you for giving me good reason to cross over and explore the other side. Your photos are wonderfully professional looking. Not taken on an iPhone for sure.


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