People do not just visit Muir Woods. They come from around the globe to pay homage to nature in this cathedral of redwoods. The trees' ages range from 400 to 800 years, their height up to 250 feet. Flat easy trails loop through the groves. Muir Woods National Monument was established on January 9, 1908 when President Roosevelt signed legislation to protect an old-growth coast redwood forest from destruction.
In the light gaps beneath the redwood trees are red alders, California big leaf maples, tanoaks, and Douglas fir. The forest floor is covered in redwood sorrel, ferns, fungi, duff, and debris. Several bridges cross Redwood Creek, which flows through the park year-round. Wildlife residents include the endangered coho salmon fingerlings, Pacific wren, woodpeckers, owls, deer, chipmunks, skunks, river otters, and squirrels to name a few.
ADVISORY: With numerous road-safety and watershed improvement projects happening in and around Muir Woods, visitors are strongly encouraged to follow the tips under the “Plan Your Visit” tab below.
In advance of implementing a parking reservation system in 2017, road-safety projects and watershed improvements are taking place in and around Muir Woods this year.
To mitigate the effects of any travel delays and make the most of your redwoods experience, follow these tips:
- Skip the stress of parking—take the shuttle
The Muir Woods Shuttle runs during the spring and summer. Adult round-trip fare is $5 (free for youth ages 15 and under). See the full schedule for start/end dates and details.
- Arrive very early or late in the day
The park opens every day at 8 am and closes at 8 pm (after March 18). Most visitors come in the middle of the day. To avoid crowds, arrive before 9 am or after 4 pm.
- Be strategic when timing your trip
Late winter and early spring are not as crowded as the summer. Avoid holiday weekends. Weekdays are better than weekends. Enjoy a quiet rainy day by dressing for the weather.
- Take the Marin Stagecoach and hike in
Plan a hiking adventure to Muir Woods by catching the Marin Stagecoach to the Mountain Home Inn. From there, it’s a two-mile (approx. 1 hour) hike to Muir Woods on the Panoramic and Canopy View (aka “Ocean View”) trails. See map for details.
- Consider other parks to see redwoods
Visit the second-growth redwoods of Phleger Estate and enjoy one of the most peaceful sites in the Golden Gate National Parks. For other redwood destinations in the Bay Area, check out Butano State Park, Samuel P. Taylor State Park, and Redwood Regional Park.
- Muir Woods is extremely popular and parking is very limited. We strongly recommend taking public transportation to Muir Woods. During the peak spring and summer season, take the Muir Woods Shuttle. Visit the website for start/end dates, schedules, and pickup locations.
- Entrance fee is $10 (free for children ages 15 and under). During the NPS Centennial year of 2016, all fourth graders and their companions enjoy free admission to all national parks through the Every Kid in a Park program.
- Although the park is open 365 days a year, hours vary by season. Visit the National Park Service site for details.
- There is no cell phone service in Muir Woods; please make prior arrangements with your taxi or rideshare service for pickup.
- Consider using a private bus tour or shuttle service. Contact individual operators for the most up-to-date schedules and fares.
- The Visitor Center at the Muir Woods entrance has exhibits and a vast selection of literature and information on Muir Woods. A cafe and gift shop is also located near the park entrance.
- Many of the canyon floor trails are boardwalks and paved trails, making the paths wheelchair accessible.
Redwood Creek provides a critical spawning and rearing habitat for several threatened species, including coho or silver salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) and steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). The spawning migrations begin after a heavy late fall or winter rains breach the sandbar at Muir Beach allowing fish to move upstream. The restoration at Muir Beach is directly linked to declining salmon runs and a huge effort is being made to create a functional, self-sustaining ecosystem in the watershed.
You can watch the spawning rituals of salmon from the footbridges that cross the creek at intervals among redwoods.
Muir Woods is home to the Northern Spotted Owl and over 50 species of birds. This relatively low number is due to the lack of insects. The tannin in the trees repel insects, and the volume of flowers and fruits produced by plants below the canopy is limited by the shade of the redwoods.
Northern California has a Mediterranean climate: wet winters and dry summers. A third of the total moisture available to local plants—including the towering redwoods—is produced by fog drip, a phenomenon in which fog droplets condense on the leaves of trees and coastal scrub.
Saving Muir Woods
During the Gold Rush local forests were decimated to supply building materials for the burgeoning city of San Francisco. Marin County conservationist and politician William Kent bought the canyon in 1905 to save the redwoods. However, two years later a local water company sued Kent to condemn the canyon for a reservoir, when Kent asked President Roosevelt for help in declaring Muir Woods a national monument in 1908. At Kent’s special request, the forest was named after John Muir—the renowned conservationist who founded the Sierra Club.
Muir Woods National Monument
Operating Hours & Seasons
Park hours: 8 am–8 pm (spring/summer); Visitor Center closes 30 minutes before park closure.
Hours for the park, café, and store vary by season; visit the NPS site for details.
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