Muir Woods National Monument

A Tranquil Escape into Nature's Grandeur

by and

I love trees and seeing the majestic Redwoods and Sequoias was a major draw for our visit to California. Muir Woods National Monument was at the top of our list along with Yosemite National Park for seeing the giant trees.

While visiting we learned that Muir Woods National Monument protects 554 acres of which 240 are old growth coast redwood trees. The majority of the trees (in this park) are between 600 and 800 years old and even though redwoods can grow up to 380 feet in height, the tallest tree in Muir Woods is 258 feet in height. There is a section of a Redwood tree in the park showing a tree that dates back to 900 AD! The Cathedral Grove, with its awe-inspiring canopy, and the famous 800-year-old tree, "Old Grandma," are must-see highlights.

Interesting Facts about Muir Woods
  • Congressman William Kent and his wife bought 611 acres of redwoods and mountains to protect the forest. It came down to a legal battle in 1907 when a water company wanted to flood the land. Kent donated 295 acres of redwoods to the government which stopped the court battle.
  • In 1908 President Theodore Roosevelt created the first national monument from donated land.
  • The first name suggested for the national monument was Kent Monument but Kent preferred that it be named after John Muir instead.
  • There is a wooden statue at the Muir Woods National Monument depicting John Muir.
  • Muir Woods National Monument is considered to be one of the most popular tourist attractions in the San Francisco Bay Area. More than 750,000 people visited the site in 2005 alone.
  • The tallest redwood in Muir Woods National Monument is 258 feet tall. Redwoods can grow as tall as 380 feet.
  • The majority of the trees located in Muir Woods National Monument are between 500 to 800 years old but the oldest tree in the protected forest is over 1,200 years old.
  • Wildlife living in Muir Woods National Monument includes Sonoma chipmunks, western gray squirrels, shrew moles, deer, an occasional black bear, 11 species of bats, sea otters, owls, woodpeckers, and fish such as coho salmon and steelhead.
  • There are not many insects in Muir Woods due to the tannin in the trees which acts as a natural repellant. The canopy created by the trees also limits the growth of fruits and flowers. These factors contribute to the fact that only about 50 bird species are found in the national monument.
  • Current entrance fee is $15 per person (16 years and older), fee information can be found here. Note that reservations are required, as the number of visitors is limited each day.
  • Muir Woods reservations can be acquired here. Note that Muir Woods is open 365 days per year.

 

Youtube Video LinkClick this image to watch a great overview video of our California trip. This video is the property of Just Traveling Thru, LLC.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Muir Woods
  • How do I get there if I have no car: Go to the National Park Service page for a good description of what to do.
  • When is the park open: Muir Woods is open every day of the year, including all holidays. The park is open 8:00 a.m. to sunset.
  • Is Muir Woods accessible to those with limited mobility: Muir Woods has 1.5 miles of paved or boardwalked trail which is mostly flat. Go to the National Park Service Page for more details.
  • Does the Park allow Dogs: No, to protect the wildlife, the other visitors, and your pet.
  • Are Reservations required for the Park: Yes, the National Park Service has a parking and shuttle reservation system at Muir Woods National Monument. Go to the National Park Service Page for more details.
  • The National Park Service Page for Muir Woods has a lot of good information, and we would suggest that you go there if you have more questions.
Where is Muir Woods Located?
John Muir and Muir Woods

Muir Woods is named after the naturalist John Muir. The story of how that came about is interesting and we suggest that you read the Wikipedia Article about this story by clicking here. Saving these beautiful trees from greed & politics took some doing! Check out our video on Youtube if you are interested in some more information as well.

Click here to go to our Muir Woods Video on this page.

Getting to Muir Woods

Muir Woods is an easy 16.8 mile drive from San Francisco so you do need a car to get there or you could take a day tour from the city. There are a number of Bus Tour Companies that will transport you to & from the park. Click here to see a Google Search Results page for "Muir Woods Tours"".

If you do drive on your own you can stop at Fort Baker and catch views of the Golden Gate Bridge from the other side of the bay and you can visit the Bonita Point Lighthouse and stop in Sausalito for breakfast or lunch.

We were staying in Santa Rosa exploring Wine Country in that area, so our drive was south on U.S. 101 for 52 miles to CA-1 south in the Tamalpais-Homestead Valley. We went very early to avoid rush hour traffic and this tactic was successful.

Muir Woods Parking Reservations and Entrance Fees

Parking reservations (you must specify a date & time) are required to park at Muir Woods (note that there are only 232 parking spaces). When reserving your spot you select the date and it then will show you available arrival times. Due to the reservation system finding a parking spot is pretty much guaranteed when you get to the park. Regular cars are $9 as of this writing (2022) and electric vehicles are $12 and they offer EV charging connections. Longer vehicles are allowed but must be shorter than 35’ total length ($30-$45).

The park entrance fee is separate from the parking fee, and obviously they are trying to avoid conflicts in the parking lot by requiring reservations to park. It is a National Park so the national park passes are honored. As we’ve mentioned before, if you plan to visit more than one or two National Parks it’s worth it to get a National Park Pass. We have enjoyed using the Senior Lifetime Pass for many years now. We are frequently delighted when we realize that we don’t have to pay the entrance fee. Currently, a day pass is $15 and kids under 15 get in for free. You can also get an annual pass just for Muir Woods.

We made our reservations for early in the morning to avoid afternoon crowds and traffic and this worked out well for us.

Shopping and Eating at Muir Woods

There is a gift shop at the park which has some snacks and t-shirts and other touristy items which can get pretty crowded during the day. In addition, Muir Woods Cafe, serves a variety of food; sandwiches, soups, beverages including coffee, and baked goods, etc.

If you want to avoid crowds you might want to get your food before entering the park. Consider finding something in Manzanita, CA which is the U.S. 101 exit for the park.

Here is a Google Map link for "restaurants near Muir Woods National Monument".

Exploring Muir Woods

Muir Woods Park is at the bottom of a canyon once known as "Redwood Canyon"; a long twisty road with numerous switchbacks as it descends to the parking lot area. The switchbacks provided us with excellent views of the canyon, although, we have to confess that Terry’s attention had to be on the road more than the scenery! I was the lucky one getting to enjoy the views on the way in.

There are a small number of trails in the park, the trail that we walked is named the "Redwood Creek Trail". See the National Park Service website for information on the other trails. The popular trails are an easy walk and can get crowded so if you like to avoid crowds you may want to venture off onto one of the lesser utilized trails.

Youtube Video LinkCheck out our video for a detailed walk through the park and for some interestings facts. This video is the property of Just Traveling Thru, LLC.

Or click here to subscribe to our Youtube Channel.

Images and narrative from our 2021 Trip to Muir Woods, CA.
Images and narrative from our 2021 Trip to Muir Woods, CA.
Images and narrative from our 2021 Trip to Muir Woods, CA.
Images and narrative from our 2021 Trip to Muir Woods, CA.
Images and narrative from our 2021 Trip to Muir Woods, CA.
Images and narrative from our 2021 Trip to Muir Woods, CA.
Images and narrative from our 2021 Trip to Muir Woods, CA.
Images and narrative from our 2021 Trip to Muir Woods, CA.
Images and narrative from our 2021 Trip to Muir Woods, CA.
Images and narrative from our 2021 Trip to Muir Woods, CA.
Images and narrative from our 2021 Trip to Muir Woods, CA.
Images and narrative from our 2021 Trip to Muir Woods, CA.
Images and narrative from our 2021 Trip to Muir Woods, CA.
Images and narrative from our 2021 Trip to Muir Woods, CA.
Images and narrative from our 2021 Trip to Muir Woods, CA.

Muir Woods National Monument protects 554 acres of which 240 are old growth coast redwood trees. The majority of the trees (in this park) are between 600 and 800 years old and even though redwoods can grow up to 380 feet in height, the tallest tree in Muir Woods is 258 feet in height.

There are a small number of trails in the park, the trail that we walked is named the "Redwood Creek Trail". See the National Park Service Trails Page for information on the other trails.

Muir Beach / Stinson Beach       Map
Images and narrative from our 2021 Trip to Muir Woods, CA.
Images and narrative from our 2021 Trip to Muir Woods, CA.
Images and narrative from our 2021 Trip to Muir Woods, CA.
Images and narrative from our 2021 Trip to Muir Woods, CA.
Images and narrative from our 2021 Trip to Muir Woods, CA.
Images and narrative from our 2021 Trip to Muir Woods, CA.

As we drove out of the park and headed back to the top of Redwood Canyon, we did some quick map research and saw that Muir Beach was only 3 miles down California route 1 and Stinson Beach was just 6 miles north of Muir Beach. Rather than driving back to U.S. 101 and returning to Santa Rosa that way, we decided to take a leisurely drive up the coast and then drive on California route 116 to Petaluma where we could rejoin U.S. 101.

We were aware that Muir Beach is a basic bedroom community without much in the way of commercialism, so our thoughts were that we would have lunch in Stinson Beach. The beach there is 3.5 miles in length and comprised of a fine white sand that is unusual in California - and it is considered to be one of the best beaches in Marin County. We were not able to find any place that looked like it offered lunches that wasn't crowded (and there weren't many !), so we picked up some snacks at the Stinson Beach Market and continued our drive north.

NOTE: Other than "The Siren Canteen", "The Sand Dollar Restaurant" and the "Stinson Beach Market" we could not find anywhere else that offers food.

Youtube Video LinkClick this image to watch a video of our drive down SR-1 from Muir Woods to Muir Beach. This is a very narrow & very steep road, but the destination is worth the drive!

This video is the property of Just Traveling Thru, LLC.

  • Just Traveling Thru Travel Planning Tips
  • Muir Woods & Sausalito Tour on the "Get Your Guide" Website
  • Google Search Results list for "accommodations near Muir Woods"
  • Google Search Results list for "Manzanita Restaurants"
  • Google Search Results list for "Muir Beach Restaurants"
  • Google Search Results list for "Manzanita Accommodations"
  • Google Search Results list for "Muir Beach Accommodations"
  • Google Search Results list for "Stinson Beach Accommodations"
  • Google Search Results list for "Stinson Beach Area places to eat"
  • Muir Beach Wikipedia Article
  • Stinson Beach Wikipedia Article
  • Youtube Search Results for "Muir Woods"
  • San Francisco, Muir Woods, Sausalito & Alcatraz Guided Tour from "Get Your Guide"
  • Amazon Search Results for "Muir Woods"
  • Visit our Youtube Channel
  • Our Image Gallery for Muir Woods
  • Wikipedia Article for Muir Woods
  • Google Image Gallery for Muir Woods

 

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Images and narrative from our 2021 Trip to Muir Woods, CA.
Trip Overview
Images and narrative from our 2021 Trip to Muir Woods, CA.
San Francisco
Images and narrative from our 2021 Trip to Muir Woods, CA.
Bonita Point
Images and narrative from our 2021 Trip to Muir Woods, CA.
Santa Rosa
Images and narrative from our 2021 Trip to Muir Woods, CA.
Muir Woods
Images and narrative from our 2021 Trip to Muir Woods, CA.
Rush Creek Lodge
Images and narrative from our 2021 Trip to Muir Woods, CA.
Yosemite National Park
Images and narrative from our 2021 Trip to Muir Woods, CA.
Forestiere Gardens
Images and narrative from our 2021 Trip to Muir Woods, CA.
Santa Monica
Images and narrative from our 2021 Trip to Muir Woods, CA.
Santa Barbara
Images and narrative from our 2021 Trip to Muir Woods, CA.
Pacific Coast Highway
Images and narrative from our 2021 Trip to Muir Woods, CA.
Monterey
Images and narrative from our 2021 Trip to Muir Woods, CA.
Carmel-by-the-Sea
 
Trip Itinerary & Overview Map

As you can see in this static map, we had a number of destinations (as well as a number of side trips) that would require a considerable amount of driving. Each of the itinerary stops is linked to our content (or page) to allow you to view our content.

Locations / Start & End points are both San Francisco International Airport
  1. San Francisco Hilton Financial District.
  2. Bonita Point Lighthouse and Fort Baker area.
  3. Sausalito, CA.
  4. Santa Rosa, CA in the heart of the Sonoma County Wine District.
  5. Salida, CA - overnight rest stop along the way to Yosemite.
  6. Yosemite National Park, CA where we stayed at the Rush Creek Lodge.
  7. Frontieres Underground Garden Fresno, CA - this was an entertainment side stop, as we had read about this place and also wanted to get lunch.
  8. Santa Barbara, CA
  9. Morro Bay, CA.
  10. Monterey Bay, CA to explore the Monterey Bay and Carmel by the Sea areas.
 
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