Muir Woods & Area, CA
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!
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.
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 do a Google Search for Muir Woods Tours or check out the Get Your Guide offers on this page.
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.
Parking reservations 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 and electric vehicles are $12 and they offer charging connections for electric vehicles. 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.
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.
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.
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 website (above) for information on the other trails.
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.
Click 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.
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