Located only 42 miles from Pleasant Hill, CA, just north of San Francisco, Muir Woods National Monument is a day-trip-worthy outdoor treasure in the central California region.
This one-of-a-kind park is unlike anywhere else on the planet and is home to an ancient redwood forest with trees dating back hundreds of years (and in some cases, over 1,000 years). Once the native home of the Huimen tribe of the Coast Miwok people, today the federally protected national monument is home to the tallest living things on the planet, colossal old-growth coastal redwoods that reach heights upwards of 250 feet and play an integral role in maintaining a unique and visually stunning ecosystem.
Hundreds of thousands of visitors journey to this awe-inspiring natural spectacle each year, with June, July and August being the park’s busiest months. With just under an hour drive time, Pleasant Hill is the perfect base camp for your Muir Woods exploration, with premier hiking trails, family-friendly hotels, global cuisine, and exciting seasonal events that are excellent additions to any central California itinerary.
What is special about Muir Woods National Monument?
Muir Woods National Monument is the only old-growth redwood forest in the San Francisco Bay Area and is one of only a few such forests remaining on the planet. Located on Mount Tamalpais on the Marin Peninsula, the nearly 300-acre forest is also part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and is home to hundreds of towering coastal redwoods, some dating back hundreds of years. Originally purchased by conservationist William Kent in 1905 to protect the redwood trees, the land was dedicated as a national monument — then the nation’s 7th — by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908 and named for the “Father of National Parks,” John Muir.
The forest's redwoods have also appeared in several big budget films, including recent blockbusters such as Rise of the Planet of the Apes and The Lost World: Jurassic Park.
How long does it take to hike through Muir Woods?
Muir Woods National Monument is home to approximately 6 miles of flat, easy to manage trails that wind through the magnificent old-growth forest and along Redwood Creek. Visitors are welcome to choose their own route through the forest — while remaining on the designated paths, of course — and have their choice of ½ hour, 1 hour or a 1 ½ hour loops. Those looking for longer hikes won’t have to search far — the surrounding Mount Tamalpais State Park is home to a number of scenic hikes and trails for all skill levels.
What type of wildlife can you see in Muir Woods?
In addition to chipmunks, deer, skunks and other common forest inhabitants, keen wildlife observers will see some of the over 50 species of birds that have been spotted within the park, such as spotted owls and pileated woodpeckers. Redwood Creek is home to two species of salmon — Coho and Steelhead — which are usually spotted in the creek from December through January and January through March, respectively. If you look even closer at the forest floor, you’re sure to spot any number of smaller invertebrates, like slugs and butterflies, that play a rather large role in sustaining the surrounding ecosystem.
What is Cathedral Grove in Muir Woods?
Cathedral Grove is a section of Muir Woods that is home to some of the forest’s tallest and oldest trees. A designated quiet zone within the park, visitors to Cathedral Grove are asked to keep noise at a minimum and instead enjoy the natural soundtrack of the surrounding environment. While in Cathedral Grove, look for a plaque from the United Nations honoring Franklin D. Roosevelt, which was dedicated during a special ceremony in Muir Woods following his death in 1945.
Location, Hours, Admission & Parking
Muir Woods National Monument is located at 1 Muir Woods Road in Mill Valley, CA. The park is open 365 days a year and is currently open to visitors from 8:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. The park entrance fee is $15 for adults and free for children 15 years and younger. America the Beautiful pass can enjoy free entry to Muir Woods and the National Park Service offers free admission to all park-goers on select days each year.
Parking reservations are required and can be made in advance online. The parking fees are $9 for cars, $30 for medium vehicles, and $45 for large vehicles. For convenient park access, consider riding the Muir Woods Shuttle, which provides convenient and affordable roundtrip service from the nearby Pohono Park & Ride. Reservations are also required for those arriving by shuttle.
Please note that there is no cell phone service or WiFi available in Muir Woods National Monument, so parking reservations should be downloaded in advance of your visit. Similarly, it is recommended visitors download the NPS app and any offline content, such as maps, to their devices prior to entering the park.
Service dogs are welcome, however pets are not permitted in Muir Woods National Monument. There are several pet-friendly outdoor spaces nearby that welcome four-legged guests, including the Coastal Trail at Muir Beach.
A visitor center at the park’s entrance offers maps and brochures of the park, as well as several dioramas and exhibits that trace Muir Woods’ storied past.
Before returning to Pleasant Hill, be sure to explore the surrounding attractions, including more natural wonders at Mount Tamalpais State Park and Muir Beach. Admire the Golden Gate Bridge from the nearby Golden Gate Viewpoint, or enjoy live music and performances at Sweetwater Music Hall and Throckmorton Theater.