Muir Woods National Monument is located on Mount Tamalpais in southwestern Marin County in California. Named after naturalist John Muir, the park is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The National Monument is 12 miles north of San Francisco and protects 554 acres, including 240 acres of old growth coast redwood forests, with trees ranging from 400-800 years old.
As the National Monument is close to the Pacific Ocean, the forest is often covered in a coastal marine layer of fog, which adds to a wet environment and boosts plant growth. The fog is also important for the growth of the redwoods, which use the moisture from it during periods of drought, especially in the dry summer. Between the redwood trees you will find red alders, California big leaf maples, tanoaks, and Douglas fir. Found on the forest floor are redwood sorrel, ferns, fungi, and duff. Redwood Creek flows through the park all year and the park is home to wildlife like coho salmon, Pacific wren, woodpeckers, owls, deer, chipmunks, skunks, and river otters.
A popular place to visit, Muir Woods National Monument offers amazing scenery along with the opportunity to get away from it all, just minutes from a major city.
To get to Muir Woods National Monument from San Francisco, take US-101 for 7.1 miles to exit 445B for CA-1 toward Mill Valley/Stinson Beach. Take CA-1 N for 5.7 miles, turning left onto Muir Woods Road, where you will arrive at the National Monument.
Reservations are required to park at Muir Woods National Monument. Parking is not available for RV's.
The Muir Woods Shuttle offers seasonal service from Sausalito, Marin City, and the Pohono Park and Ride lot to Muir Woods National Monument. Service is typically available weekends and holidays year-round, as well as daily between mid-June and mid-August. Shuttle reservations are required.
Located in the Marin Headlands and part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the Bicentennial Campground sits among a grove of cypress trees and offers easy access to Muir Woods National Monument.
The campground includes three campsites that are a short walk downhill from the parking area of the campground, each of which include a barbecue grill, food locker and picnic table. A portable restroom and pit toilet are available at the campground. On a clear day, you can take in views of the Golden Gate Bridge as well as the city of San Francisco. Sites are tent-only and nonelectric.
While camping is not allowed in Muir Woods National Monument, there are plenty of camping options nearby. For example, Kirby Cove, located just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, offers five camp sites, two of which are accessible.
Kirby Cove, which is at the foot of the Marin Headlands, includes a beach of coarse sand and offers beautiful views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Reservations can be made online in advance and are tent-only. The campground offers many amenities, like beach access, pit toilets, a food locker, barbecue, picnic table, and fire pit.
There are six miles of hiking trails in Muir Woods National Monument, offering plenty of opportunity to walk among the majestic redwood trees.
You can choose from several loops, that last from half an hour to an hour and a half, as well as explore longer trails that reach into Mount Tamalpais State Park, that surrounds the Monument. You will find trails that are asphalt and those that consist of boardwalk. The trails on the canyon walls are narrow and made of dirt. Regardless of the hike that you choose, you will be able to experience being among the old-growth coastal redwoods that are the world’s tallest living things.
Not far from Muir Woods National Monument is the Marine Mammal Center, which is a private non-profit developed to rescue, rehabilitate and release marine mammals who were either injured, sick or abandoned. Since it was established in 1973, the Center has rescued more than 20,000 marine mammals.
The Marine Mammal Center also conducts environmental research and education on marine mammals. The public can visit the Center daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day).
During your visit to Muir Woods National Monument you can also check out Mount Tamalpais State Park. Located in the heart of Marin County, the park includes deep canyons and hillsides covered with redwoods and oaks, along with open grasslands and chaparral.
From the upper mountain of Mount Tamalpais, you can take in incredible views like the Farallon Islands, the Marin County hills, San Francisco, the East Bay, and Mount Diablo. Within the park, you can hike, have a picnic, and attend the Mountain Theater, which holds plays in the outdoors as well as astronomy programs.
While visiting Muir Woods National Monument, consider a quick trip to Muir Beach Overlook, where you can enjoy views of the Pacific Coast, including the Point Reyes Peninsula.
Also available at the overlook are several historic base-end stations. These observation posts were a part of the San Francisco Bay coastal defense system and were used by soldiers to look for ships through telescopes, allowing for the area to be protected from warships in the 1900’s. While at the overlook, keep your eyes peeled; this is a great place for whale watching as they migrate for the winter.
Muir Woods National Monument offers different talks and guided tours led by Rangers and volunteers. These talks and tours offer an excellent opportunity to learn more about the park’s trees, its redwood ecology and cultural history. Talks last for around 15 minutes and guided one-hour tours are held as staffing allows.
A program board at the park entrance will list times and locations of both the talks and tours and no reservations are necessary. Want to explore at your own pace? A self-guided program is also an option; it can be purchased for $1 at the Visitor Center.
While at the Muir Woods National Monument, you will want to check out the Visitor Center. Located in the entrance plaza, you will be able to view both permanent and changing exhibits on the ecology and conservation of the redwoods. The Visitor Center also includes a store that sells books and other gift items. If you are looking to spend some time indoors AND learn about the Monument, the Visitor Center is a great option.