Rodeo Valley winds through the heart of the Marin Headlands and is edged by grassy, wind-swept hillsides. The valley and lagoon offer habitat for birds, butterflies, and bobcats—as well as miles of backcountry and coastal trails.
Rodeo Lagoon is a favorite birdwatching spot in the Rodeo Valley area. Here you will see egrets, ducks, and other birds feeding and resting in the shallow wetlands. Rodeo Lagoon is also home to the endangered tidewater goby, a small fish that burrows in the lagoon’s soft shoreline sediment.
In order to protect these sensitive species, people and pets are not allowed in any part of Rodeo Lagoon.
Plan Your Visit
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- Look for the Marin Headlands Visitor Center’s red spire at Bunker and Field roads. Exhibits introduce you to the natural and historical splendor of Rodeo Valley and the Marin Headlands. Park rangers are on hand to advise visitors about trails and camping.
- On Sundays and holidays, San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Agency (MUNI) provides bus service between San Francisco and Rodeo Beach, passing through the valley and along the lagoon.
- Many old fire and ranch roads in the Headlands are good for mountain biking. Please give way to hikers, horses, and walkers sharing the trail. Biking is prohibited on footpaths and open terrain. Check at the visitor center for current regulations.
- Picnic areas can be found at Rodeo Pond on the east side of the car bridge, across Rodeo Lagoon.
- Click here for updates on dog management policies in Rodeo Valley.
The Goby of Rodeo Lagoon
The tidewater goby (Eucyclogobius newberri), which is native to California, completes its entire life cycle within its lagoon habitat. Because the fish do not enter the ocean, each population of the tidewater goby is isolated from the others, and thus develops a unique gene pool.
Additionally, the species cannot naturally re-colonize an area where the local population has been extirpated. To protect and maintain Rodeo Lagoon’s tidewater goby population, the National Park Service restricts people and their pets from accessing the lagoon and its shoreline. If this particular population vanishes, the entire lagoon-specific gene pool would be lost.
The Rodeo Valley Trail in the Marin Headlands is a historic ranch road that runs north of Bunker Road from Wolfback Ridge to Bobcat Trail. In 2011 and 2012, the Parks Conservancy and National Park Service rehabilitated the Rodeo Valley Trail to improve visitor access, restore riparian habitat, reduce trail flooding during the winter, and create a safer, more scenic alternative to Bunker Road.
Trail improvements included the construction and installation of two new bridges and connector trails; resurfacing of Rodeo Valley Trail from Bobcat Trail east to the new Capehart Bridge; installation of drainage features to keep the trail surface dry year-round; realignment of the trail away from wetland habitat; and restoration of adjacent wetland and riparian areas. The enhanced trail invites park users into Rodeo Valley for serene park experiences in this natural area, just over the hill from Sausalito. To learn more about this trail improvement project, click here.