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William Kent, a noted California philanthropist, and politician realized that lumber companies had virtually wiped out nearly all of the old-growth redwood trees around the Bay Area and moved quickly to buy around 600 acres of pristine, untouched redwoods in 1905. In 1909, he donated a small patch of land to the federal government in 1908, and President Roosevelt used the Antiquities Act to establish this land as a national monument. Kent’s donation came with one caveat: that it be named after John Muir, who was a prominent conservationist, naturist, and author. Muir is often credited with spawning the philosophy of preserving nature for future generations.
The closest town near Muir Woods National Monument with shopping, restaurants, and perhaps most important, a hospital with an emergency room is Kentfield. Considered a “bedroom community” for San Francisco and the other larger towns nearby.
Although Muir Woods National Monument is a smaller one, clocking in at just over 600 acres, the upside is it’s one of the last untouched old-growth woods in the Bay area. Stating that redwood trees are massive doesn’t quite hit home until you see them with your own eyes. Measuring anywhere between three and six feet across in diameter, these trees also dwarf other trees in height. The tallest tree in the Muir Woods National Monument measures, as of 2018, 258 feet, and it’s still growing. To put that in perspective, that’s about 18 stories.
There are a few miles of trails, a few of which are either boardwalk paths or asphalt. The remainder is dirt, though, and because of the tree roots which run across the path, it can be challenging for some people to navigate. Biking and horseback riding are strictly prohibited, as is going off-trail. Heads-up: due to limited parking and popularity, the National Park Services have implemented a new (as of 2018) system. All visitors must make reservations to park and also purchase shuttle tickets. No one without advance reservations will be permitted. The park is in a part of the Bay area in which there is no WiFi nor cell service, and it’s recommended that visitors download or print their reservations in advance.
Muir Woods National Monument is surrounded by Mount Tamalpais State Park, which is a significantly larger park. A couple of trails in Muir Woods National Monument connect to trails in Mount Tamalpais State Park. There are over 60 miles of trails, many of which are multi-use. Local lore says that mountain biking was invented in Mount Tamalpais State Park in the 1960s and 1970s, and though this claim often is contested, this much is true. Many biking trails are both scenic and challenging, making the excursion a fun one for an intrepid biker.
Water-related recreational activities are also popular. An access trail leads to the Steep Ravine Beach at which fishing, scuba diving, swimming, and windsurfing are enjoyed by many. Alternatively, take to the air. Jump off one of the vantage points along the cliffs and glide on thermals for as long as you can in a hang glider. All hang gliders must sign in at the Pantoll ranger station.
Partly due to the park’s size, partly to protect the trees for future generations, RV camping at Muir Woods National Monument is not permitted. However, there are several other options in the area. One of Mount Tamalpais State Park RV campgrounds are found just off the Steep Ravine beach. Close to Stinson Beach, this campground is largely primitive, though there are restrooms with flush toilets and faucets.
Alternatively, one could RV camp near Mill Valley, CA, at Pantoll Campground. Operated on a first-come, first-serve basis, this campground is small, able to accommodate only a few people at any given time. While it can be a challenge to secure a spot, particularly during the summer months, the upside is it makes for a quieter camping experience.
When amenities are desired, look in one of the nearby towns like Greenbrae, CA. Marin RV Park boasts full hookups, WiFi, a dog-walk area that comes with a view of the San Francisco Bay, and a heated swimming pool.
With San Francisco literally just a few minutes down the road, the opportunities for adventure and fun to be had are endless. Don’t overlook the small towns scattered across central-California coast, though. Many towns are historic, dating back to the 1850s. Petaluma is especially well known for its interesting architectural homes and buildings, some of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Rancho Petaluma Adobo is a National Historic Landmark, also.
In Sausalito, is Fort Baker, a former U.S. Army post that was constructed in 1905. Converted into a National Park, visitors may tour the turn-of-century outpost, explore the gun emplacements, and examine various artifacts on display at the center.
Kick up your heels outside an Airstream rental and enjoy the quiet ambiance of the California woods. Listen to crickets as they croon at sunset. Birds act as alarm clocks in the morning, alerting everyone within earshot that the sun has once again risen. Find your perfect RV camping adventure in California when you book an RV in Marin County.