Golden Gate, strait in western California, at the entrance to San Francisco Bay, separating the bay from the Pacific Ocean. The strait is 8 km (5 mi) long and narrows to 1 km (0.6 mi) in width. The famous Golden Gate Bridge crosses the strait to connect San Francisco, on the south, with Marin County, on the north. Although the English explorer Sir Francis Drake visited the region of San Francisco Bay in 1579 and a scout for the Spanish colonial governor Gaspar de Portolá may have explored as far as the Golden Gate in 1769, the first Europeans known with certainty to have seen it were a party of soldiers sent by Portolá in 1772. The American explorer John Charles Frémont gave the strait the name Golden Gate in 1846.
The Golden Gate National Recreation Area, established in 1972 by the National Park Service, extends north and south of the Golden Gate and also includes Alcatraz and Angel islands, and the Presidio of San Francisco.