Welcome to the Marin Headlands!
Discover the many cultures that have called the Marin Headlands home. This includes the history of the Miwok Indians to the American Military and everything in between. Enjoy a hike through our varied trails, including dog-friendly Rodeo Beach, and take in the astonishing views of the Pacific Coast and San Francisco. The explosion of wildflowers in the spring and raptor migration in the fall fill the Headlands with year-round excitement.
The Marin Headlands is an example of open spaces still available in the Bay Area for visitors to enjoy.
Things to do in the Marin Headlands
- Begin your explorations at the Marin Headlands Visitor Center, open year-round from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm. Closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
- Contemplate the Cold War's enduring influence on today's society at the Nike Missile Site.
- Discover the Golden Gate's guiding light at the Point Bonita Lighthouse.
- Sleep under the stars at one of our campgrounds.
- Touch the historic 16-inch gun that oversaw the end of World War II at Battery Townsley.
- In the spring, take a stroll through Tennessee Valley and watch as the valley comes alive with colorful wildflowers.
- Scan the sky for migratory birds of prey soaring above Hawk Hill.
- Enjoy the great outdoors with a hike through the coastal chapparal surrounding Gerbode Valley or at dog-friendly Rodeo Beach at Fort Cronkhite.
- Take a cell-phone tour of Fort Baker, an Endicott-period army post from the early 1900's.
- Visit Golden Gate's park-partner organizations located in the Marin Headlands, including the Marin Mammal Center and the Headlands Center for the Arts.
- Bring your own snack; there are no food vendors in the Marin Headlands
- Accessible restroom facilities are available at the Fort Cronkhite parking lot by Rodeo Beach and at the Visitor Center.
- Picnic at Battery Wallace, near the Point Bonita Trailhead. This is one of the parks' most scenic picnic spots, complete with tables and grills (no water on site).
- Take a drive along Conzelman Road from the northern foot of the Golden Gate Bridge to Point Bonita. This five-mile road offers breathtaking views of San Francisco and the Pacific Ocean.
The Marin Headlands houses an amazing richness of biological diversity due to the variety of habitats and unique geology of the area.
The Marin Headlands lie along the Pacific Flyway and hosts a large variety of owl, song and shore bird species. Egrets, grebes, and mallard ducks can be found year-around patrolling the waters of Rodeo Lagoon. Bird Island along the coast of Rodeo Beach is one of the largest roosting sites in northern California for the endangered brown pelican. Download the Marin Headlands Bird Checklist for a complete list of birds that can be found throughout the area.
The sea cliffs and road cuts of the Headlands have exposed some of the finest examples of pillow basalt and radiolarian chert found in California.
Millions of years ago, these rocks formed at the bottom of the sea, several thousand miles from the coast. The black pillow basalt was created from lava spewing from vents, while the red-brown radiolarian chert formed as the remains of radiolarians (microscopic protozoans) collected in layers. As the seafloor moves slowly east, it slides under the North American continent and leaves behind scrapings of radiolarian chert and pillow basalt.
Today, make sure to visit Rodeo Beach to marvel at the pretty green and dark-red pebbles that come from pillow basalt and chert-rocks.
Marin Headlands Visitor Center
Daily from 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM
Park lands are open from sunrise to sunset.
Please note, the Marin Headlands Visitor Center is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
The Marin Headlands Visitor Center is located in the historic Fort Barry Chapel, at the intersection of Field and Bunker Roads.
The visitor center's exhibits span the history of the Marin Headlands! The exhibits include a native plant garden where visitors can smell and identify local plants of the Marin Headlands; a coastal Miwok shelter, a KO-cha, where visitors can listen to present-day Coastal Miwok people talk about their culture; and an accessible touch table where visitors can examine various marine and land animal bones. Or perhaps, you would like to explore the Headlands on you own? Local field guides and self-guided walks are also available to guide your exploration around the Marin Headlands.
Check out Transit 511.org for MUNI 76 Service on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.
For interactive driving directions, please visit the Parks Conservancy website.
The Baker-Barry Tunnel will be closed for important improvements from approximately November 2016 to April 2017. Please check with tunnel closure website to see if the tunnel closure will affect your travel plans.
The Point Bonita Lighthouse is open Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 12:30 - 3:30 PM.
The Nike Missile Site is open on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 12:30 - 3:30 PM. Please call the Marin Headlands Visitor Center at (415) 331-1540 for winter hours.
Battery Townsley is open the 1st Sunday of each month from 12:00-4:00 PM.