Located only 12 miles north of San Francisco, Ca, Muir Woods is a part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. In the early 1900’s the land that is now Muir Woods National Park was purchased by Elizabeth and William Kent to save it from the timber industry and development. Even after they purchased it, this land which houses some of the last remaining redwoods was threatened by a water company.
The water company was seeking to dam Redwood Creek which would flood the valley destroying the majestic redwoods that are now protected as part of Muir Woods National Park. The water company stymied by the objections and court battles of Mr. and Mrs. Kent sought to use eminent domain to accomplish their plan of flooding the valley.
Fearing that they might lose the eminent domain battle waged by the politically connected and powerful water company, Mr. and Mrs. Kent took the unusual step of donating 295 acres of the 611 that they had purchased to the Federal Government. By deeding the land to the Federal Government, the eminent domain petition was halted.
On January 8, 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt declared the donated land a National Monument, thus preserving one of the last stands of a redwood forest. The donation of this land became the first time a private land donation to the Federal Government became a National Monument. President Roosevelt had it in his mind to name the protected acreage of Redwoods, the Kent National Monument in honor of the donors. Mr. Kent had other ideas, petitioning the President to name this newest National Monument after the man who was instrumental in the foundation of the National Park System, John Muir.
Over a hundred million years before the United States of America was formed, the ancestors of redwood and sequoia were common throughout the continent. Diminished by civilization, commercial logging and poor conservational foresight, these stoic majestic giants now grow in only a narrow coastal belt of land from Monterey County, Ca to Oregon.
Muir Woods National Park is a pedestrian park. Vehicles were once only allowed as far as the entrance parking lot. To improve the park experience for all as well as to protect this national treasure, the National Park Service has launched a parking and shuttle reservation system. To visit Muir Woods National Park, reservations can be made by calling 1-800-410-2419 or online at GoMuirWoods.com. It is important to remember to download your tickets in advance before heading to the woods. There is NO cell phone service or Wi-Fi available at or around the woods.
Muir Woods National Monument is open to the public 365 days a year. The climate is cool and moist throughout the year, average temperatures range from 40 – 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Winter is the rainy season, visitors are reminded to dress appropriately. To protect this treasured eco-system that dates to prehistoric times the National Park Service does not allow, pets, bicycles, smoking, horseback riding or camping within Muir Woods National Monument.
Visitors to Muir Woods National Monument who will be cell phone free can get in touch with nature by walking the over 6 miles of trails throughout the woods while they experience redwoods as high as 258 feet. These are coastal redwoods that are noted for their height which are related to the giant sequoia of the Sierra Nevada. The redwoods that you will encounter in Muir Woods National Monument were here when the Second Holy Roman Empire was in existence in the 1500’s, while others were here when the Magna Carta was signed in 1215 AD. The average age of redwoods in Muir Woods National Park range from 600 to 800 years old. The oldest is estimated to be 1200 years old.
As you walk the 6 miles of trails at Muir Woods National Monument, you will be experiencing the sights and sounds that John Muir experienced. His hikes through this part of the woods were instrumental in his writings, his passion for conservation and his activism in preserving the monuments of nature.
The six miles of trails at Muir Woods National Monument allows visitors to choose a walk suited to their endurance and visiting time. There is a ½ hour loop, a 1-hour loop, a 1 ½ hour loop, as well as longer hikes that extend into the surrounding Mount Tamalpais State Park maintained by California.
When staffing permits, Rangers and volunteers engage visitors with 15-minute talks about the flora, fish, birds and mammals that call Muir Woods National Monument home. There are also 1 hour guided tours available. Before your visit check the calendar of events, there is something happening all year.
If you are arriving at the woods with children, adults should download and print A Quest at Muir Woods, a rhyming riddle game for the whole family that teaches the secrets of Muir Woods known by the Rangers who protect and care for it. There is also a Junior Ranger Book, that parents can download and print. Children can earn their Junior Ranger Badge and Certificate when they use this guide while visiting the woods.
Muir Woods National Monument includes a Visitor Center, Gift Shop and Café. Although open 365 days a year, hours vary by season.
Story by Daniel Dachille