The sheer awesomeness of Rodeo Beach can easily be overshadowed by the fact that its status as Mill Valley’s backyard beach. But there is a wetland, open headlands, and forested trails all within five minutes of the beach parking lot – a legitimately stunning location in its own right!

One of the darkest sand beaches around, when I think of Rodeo Beach in Marin, I think of contrast. Bright sunshine, deep blue ocean, and dense, weathered old trees. It is easy to forget how special this place is, but I will never forget the first time I visited and was blown away to have such a unique location so close to home.

At the north end of Rodeo is the main parking lot. There are restrooms here, and a bunch of old Presidio-style buildings that make up Fort Cronkhite. Following a closed road up the hill to the north you will find a section of dense forest made mostly of gnarled old Monterey Cypress. Along this road there is a path that takes you out to the headland and an overlook of the beach.

To the west is the beach, but also one of my sneaky-favorites, the edge of the wetland. The water here is always calm, and it is a fun spot to splash around with the kids.

As you walk south the beach gets quieter and quieter – this is the direction I head when I am taking the dogs for a walk. Did I mention that Rodeo Beach is dog friendly? There are some beautiful rock formations on this end of the beach, best explored at lower tides. If you go far enough, you will find the south entrance to the beach, where a trail heads up to Battery Alexander (you can also park here and hike down).

This family photo session was really special. It felt like the first cold, crisp morning of Winter and the vibrant energy of this lovely family reflected it. We kept moving the entire session, trying our best to keep up with their older daughter. I was pretty psyched when they broke out the rain boots for splashing around in the wetland!

Want to see more? Check out these recent session galleries.

Man looks out from behind a professional camera

Thanks for being here. I’m David Enloe, a San Francisco family photographer. I make soul-stirring pictures for families that find adventure around every corner. Want to learn more about the person behind the camera?

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