For an unforgettable day trip to Muir Woods National Monument to walk amongst the Coast Redwoods, tallest species of trees on earth, combine the adventure with stop in nearby Sausalito.
Many of the spectacular Sequoia sempervirens in this mature growth forest, only 12 miles from downtown San Francisco, are more than 1,000 years old. Unique to the this part of the West Coast, the national park is a must-see for nature lovers. Muir Woods attracts 900,000 visitors from around the globe each year.
Organized tours are available daily from San Francisco to Muir Woods. Once inside the park guests are free to explore at their own pace on well-marked walking trails.
U.S. Congressman William Kent and his wife Elizabeth had purchased the land to preserve its beauty and restful wilderness, and in 1908 they donated it to the federal governent to protect it from development. President Theodore Roosevelt declared Muir Woods the 10th national monument on January 9, 1908. The park was named after naturalist John Muir who was instrumental in establishing the National Park system.
What to Do in Muir Woods
Muir Woods National Monument is made up of over 560 acres of redwood forest. Cathedral and Bohemian Groves contain the largest Coast redwoods – up to 252 feet tall and 14 feet across. A highlight is Cathedral Grove, where delegates from all over the world placed a plaque in memory of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was meant to be present in the spring of 1945 to draft and sign the Charter of the United Nations.
Visitors are invited to explore the paved main trail path which is one-half mile and easily accessible to all. Educational exhibits on the majestic redwood trees and the park's wildlife are located along the trail. Park rangers offer free ecology tours at intervals throughout the day.
More ambitious hikers can follow signs to longer intermediate trails. There are six miles of walking trails and no cars are allowed in the redwood grove. Keep an eye and ear out for possible sightings of Northern spotted owls, jays, bats, black-tailed deer, Coho salmon, butterflies and more wildlife among the animal community inside a sun-dappled canopy created by the towering redwoods.
Shaded and moist year round, the park can be cool so be sure to pack a light jacket or sweater. Daytime temperatures at Muir Woods average between 40 and 70 degrees Farenheit. Be prepared for precipitation if visiting the park from October to May. The park opens at 8am 365 days a year, though closing time varies seasonally.
Inside the park are a visitor center, cafe and gift shop which open at 9am. The cafe features locally sourced, organic foods and the gift shop specializes in locally and sustainably made redwood gifts, Native American jewelry and other classic souvenirs.
Roads to the park are steep and winding. Vehicles over 35 feet long are prohibited. Parking space is extremely imited and fills quickly on most days. There are no RV parking facilities.
Did You Know?
- Coast Redwoods grow in family circles.
- The tallest tree in Muir Woods is 260 feet high, located in Bohemian Grove.
- Giant sequoias are located in Yosemite and Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Parks. These trees are larger in diameter than the Coast Redwood, but are not as tall.