• View of the Golden Gate Bridge, taken from the Marin Headlands, looking across the bay back towards San Francisco, seen in the distance.

    Golden Gate

    National Recreation Area California

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  • Winter Surf Warning

    Every year people drown in the surf off Northern California beaches - don't let it be you! Be extra alert on park beaches during the winter storm season. Do not turn your back on the shoreline and watch for extra powerful “sneaker” waves.


Nature and Science

Rodeo Beach in the Marin Headlands

NPS photo

Sandy shores seem open and endless, but actually include a number of different habitats. Starting at the crashing waves of the tidal zone, animals such as the mole crab bury themselves in the shifting sands, moving up and down the beach as the waves break and the tide turns. In the intertidal zone crustaceans and mollusks are truly living life on the edge, either being preyed upon by shorebirds on the beach or fish and crabs in the water. Up from the intertidal zone is the wrack line – seaweed and other flotsam gathered on the upper beach. Bull kelp, feather boa algae, dead sea life, and drift wood provide homes for amphipods and black flies. These beach decomposers help break down dead plant and animals, and in turn are food for small shorebirds such as the endangered snowy plover. There are many beaches to enjoy and explore in Golden Gate including Stinson Beach, Muir Beach, Tennessee Valley Beach, Rodeo Beach, Baker Beach, and Ocean Beach.

As one stares out at the often gray and choppy seas off the coast, you wonder if the late Dr. Edgar Wayburn and other conservationists were thinking about ocean resources and protection in the midst of their efforts to establish the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The park's boundaries actually extend a quarter mile offshore to encompass the seabirds, whales, reef organisms, kelp dwellers, and sandy bottom invertebrates and fish that abound off of the Golden Gate. These organisms are so plentiful here because of a strong upwelling zone where deep nutrients are brought to the surfance for multitutdes of plankton (the basis of the marine food chain) to feed on. In certain areas, the park shares overlapping management authority with the Gulf of the Farallones and Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuaries.Golden Gate has recently been recognized as a national marine protected area.

Did You Know?

Presidio Trust & Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy

Golden Gate National Recreation Area works in partnership with the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy and the Presidio Trust in Volunteer Management. These creative partners have widened the scope of diversity and taken the program to a higher level.