MUIR WOODS HAS BEEN CLOSED DUE TO HIGH WINDS ON JANUARY 18 TO AVOID ANYONE BEING HURT BY FALLING BRANCHES. THEY EXPECT TO RE-OPEN TOMORROW.
Muir Woods National Monument
1 Muir Woods Road, Mill Valley, CA 94941
Event RSVP and Visitor Information Line: 415-388-2595
There is an essential contradiction to visiting Muir Woods:
Once you’re here the majesty of the trees, the beauty of the landscape and the “different kind of quiet” (even when kids are running by and having fun) can make you feel calm, content and introspective. But…
Because so many people want to come here, the roads are narrow and the parking lots are tiny, getting to the front gate of Muir Woods can be exasperating… the exact opposite of that calm mood for which this old growth redwood forest is famous!.
Our job on this website is to minimize the hassles of getting here so you can maximize the joy of being here.
You can buy tickets for each member of your group, or pay a flat fee to get a pass for everyone in your car. Kids 15 and under are free, and there are a few free entry days each year for everyone.
You do not need to make reservations to visit Muir Woods unless you are attending a special event.
Muir Woods is open every day of the year (yes, all 365) from 8:00 AM to sunset. (Click here to see the times when sunset takes place on the mountain at different times of year.)
If you visit on a big holiday please thank the Rangers and other staff for working that day so the park can stay open.
Muir Woods is nestled in a wooded canyon on the slopes of Mt. Tamalpais in Marin County, just a few miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito and San Francisco. It takes about 45 minutes to drive here from the Golden Gate Bridge.
Insiders Tip: That 45-minute trip can be longer on sunny weekend mornings when Stinson-Beach-bound sun-lovers clog the roads at the base of the mountain. On weekends when it’s warm get an extra early start, and consider taking the Muir Woods Shuttle so you can relax while the bus driver hassles with the traffic.
Insiders Tip: As you’ll hear us say elsewhere, there is very little parking at Muir Woods, and on weekends and holidays during the Spring and Summer we (again) strongly recommend taking the Muir Woods Shuttle. Any time of year we recommend getting there very early in the morning to avoid a long walk when the parking lots are full.
Insiders Tip: If you drive your car up the narrow roads to Muir Woods check ahead to see if anyone in your group is prone to getting carsick. If you have toddlers or young kids in a rental car or the back of a vehicle they may get sick to their stomachs before you realize they feel bad. (Two generations of OurSausalito.com editors can tell you sad stories about getting carsick as kids on these very roads!) Driving more slowly and avoiding busy morning times when the roads get jammed does help.
Restrooms, the Visitor Center, a Gift Shop and the Cafe are all located next to the parking lot, where the Muir Woods Shuttle drops off visitors.
The video below gives you a great feel for the paths in the main area of redwood groves.
Planning Your Visit to Suit Your Schedule
Here’s the secret to enjoying your visit to Muir Woods:
Once you’re here it’s easy to lose track of time, and hard to tear yourself away from the beauty and majesty of the redwoods. Many people have to leave the park before they’ve seen everything they wanted to see because either a tour schedule or plans later that day limited their time.
It’s common for road and parking delays to occur, so you may have planned to arrive at 10:00 and actually reach the gates at 11:00, further shortening your stay.
The Secret: Allow extra time for your visit to Muir Woods. This is a calm and quiet place and having to rush through it is something most people regret.
Sometimes, however, you’ll just be stuck with too little time and there’s nothing you can do about it. If you’re on a bus tour (or have a dinner reservation in Sausalito) and have just an hour to walk around, we have directions below that will allow you to stroll and see Bohemian Grove, the closest of the special stands of redwoods at the park, and the Pinchot Redwood Tree, one of the most famous large old trees. The Bohemian Grove has been the site of many historic — and some sophomoric — events.
If you have a couple of hours you can walk the entire main paved path on the valley floor, and you may still have time to look for something special in the gift shop. That route will also take you to Cathedral Grove, the more distant named stand of redwoods and the location of one of the first meetings of the United Nations in 1945. Once you get there you’ll understand why they say it’s like a cathedral.
Finally, if you love to hike and come up the mountain early in the morning there are many longer hikes that start in Muir Woods and lead down to the ocean or in loops through different micro-climates and environments on Mt. Tamalpais. Many of these hikes can also be started from trailheads outside Muir Woods, so you walk uphill in the morning and then have the easier return trip in the afternoon.
Insiders Tip: I’m friends with a former Muir Woods employee. He tells us that the Rangers love three things: helping visitors, preserving the redwood forest, and teaching people about this unique environment. You should always feel encouraged to ask questions when you see the Rangers on your visit, because talking with you is one of their favorite parts of the job.
The Heart of the Park
A stream called Redwood Creek runs through the middle of the wooded valley and several bridges cross it to offer visitors shorter and longer loops they can walk through the redwoods. When you’re ready to go back to the parking lot just cross the next bridge over the creek and walk along the opposite shore.
Although the terrain surrounding Muir Woods is steep — as are the access roads that lead to it — there are two miles of paved walkways leading from the parking lot and entrance that allow visitors to visit the major areas of redwoods. These paths have very gentle slopes and in many places are relatively level, so they are appropriate for a wide variety of visitors.
Other, steeper unpaved paths branch out at several points along the trail, and you can follow these outbound for 15 minutes and turn back or take a looping route that will take hours. Different kinds of landscapes and ecosystems surround Muir Woods, so on longer side hikes you’ll leave the redwoods and see coastal oaks, grasslands and even vistas of the Pacific Ocean.
You can even take a path that leads down to the Pacific Ocean, although the climb back up the mountain is long and strenuous.
Although Muir Woods has clearly defined boundaries, it borders other major California parks. Some trails from other parks run through Muir Woods and continue on the other side, although they typically involve steep climbs to reach the area. The major trails are not secured by gates.
Insiders Tip: On this page (and on our collection of Muir Woods topic pages) we give you a thorough introduction to prepare for your visit to Muir Woods. If you’re looking for an entire book about Muir Woods, I think the best guidebook to visiting Muir Woods is still the one written by Sausalito’s Susan Frank and illustrated by her late husband, the celebrated local cartoonist Phil Frank. Redwoods live to be hundreds of years old, and almost all of what Susan wrote in 1999 is fresh and accurate tioday when it comes to this wonderful forest. A few details like ticket prices are out of date, but this does not interfere with all the great learning you’ll get from this volume, and Susan is a treasured part of the Sausalito community.
Muir Woods Webcam
There are no webcams inside the Park, but this KGO-TV webcam on a ridge above Muir Woods will give you a feel for the local weather.
What Can I Bring and What Can We Do (and Not Do) There?
You can get married in Muir Woods, but you need to make arrangements well in advance and follow some guidelines.
You cannot ride your bike at Muir Woods, though there are many popular mountain biking routes in the surrounding parks.
Dogs are not allowed, except for service dogs for the disabled. There are many areas in surrounding parks, however, where dogs are allowed.
There are not any traditional open play areas where you can throw a frisbee or kick a soccer ball.
Photography is allowed for personal enjoyment, but you cannot do a commercial photo shoot without getting a permit from the National Park Service (see our page on Weddings in Muir Woods). The paths and trails support lots of visitors, so any tripod used for photos has to be off the path and out of the way.
There are no picnic facilities in the park, since it is a long narrow valley with paths through a dense forest. There is a Muir Woods Trading Co. Cafe that serves food in a rustic setting, and many other picnic areas surround Muir Woods on Mt. Tamalpais.
Smoking is permitted only in the parking lots. Please use great care when smoking since this remote forest is vulnerable to fire.
There is no camping in Muir Woods, but (noticing a trend here?) there are many campsites in nearby regional, state and national parks.
Muir Woods National Monument has 6 miles of trails through the redwood groves and surrounding areas. Of these, the two miles of paths in the central groves on Redwood Creek (the area with the largest trees and most majestic settings) are paved.
All 2 miles of paved trails are wheelchair and stroller accessible, although there are gentle slopes as you follow the creek up the hill.
Disabled parking is available in the main parking lot, but please keep in mind that on weekends and holidays in particular this lot overflows very early in the morning, and even the supply of disabled parking spots can be exhausted, albeit after the regular spaces are long gone.
Insider Tip: Even with Disabled tags for your car, during the summer, weekends or holidays come to Muir Woods early in the morning to make sure you get a parking spot.
Wheelchairs and strollers are also available on loan for visitors at no charge at the Visitor Center.