Ask Annie is an occasional series here on OurSausalito.com where we share interesting questions from readers, along with our answers.
Hi, Annie —
I am coming to visit in May, 2018 from Australia, and I like getting public transport, not going on tours. I see on your site with the Muir Woods shuttle bus that there are now limited numbers and they are only available 90 days before you want to go, and they go fast.
Am I able to reserve my seats online when seats come available or is it only open to locals?
For the Sausalito Ferry, do we need to buy tickets in advance? I bought a Clipper Card to save money on the trains, bus and ferry.
“Adventurer from Australia”
Dear Adventurer —
You’re asking your question at a great time, because this is a brand new system and we are all learning it this year. We’ve been receiving briefings from the National Park Service over the last three months in order to help sort out all the answers.
First of all, anyone can buy a Muir Woods shuttle reservation — you just need a valid credit card to pay the US $3.00 fee. You’ll buy your Muir Woods entry ticket (which costs US $10) at the entry gate when you get to the park.
The potential problem: In May the Muir Woods Shuttle operates only on weekends and holidays. The only official Federal holiday in May this year is Monday, May 28. If you’re going to be here on a weekend or on the 28th, just log onto the website three months ahead of the date you’ll be here and you should have no problem picking a convenient time of day for your shuttle reservation.
When you make your shuttle reservation you have to pick which shuttle bus stop in Sausalito you want to use, and there are three of them.
- If you’re coming to Sausalito from San Francisco on the Sausalito Ferry you’ll want to go to the bus stop one block from the Ferry pier (pictured above), which is located at Bay St. near Bridgeway.
- If you’re driving and parking a rental car you’ll want the free parking at either the Pohono St. or the Marin City Transit Hub bus stops.
- We have maps and more information about all three stops here.
If you’re coming on a weekday in May and don’t want to take an organized tour, there are fewer options. We have family members who are non-tour-takers so I’ll base my advice on their preferences.
Option 1: Rent a car and get a Muir Woods parking reservation, then drive up the mountain to the park. You could get this by logging onto the Muir Woods website three months in advance of your arrival, and there shouldn’t be a problem in getting a time you want that day. The reservation costs US $8.00, and you’ll buy your $10 entry ticket at the park gates.
Option 2: Big Bus Tours, a hop-on hop-off service, has had a route that serves Muir Woods during some parts of the year (note: they’re a sponsor of OurSausalito), as do other hop-on hop-off services, though you’ll need to research to see which ones operate their routes in May. While you’re on the bus you’ll hear commentary from the driver or a guide as you cross the Golden Gate Bridge and see other landmarks, and you’ll make stops along the way that may also interest you.
What’s great about the hop-on hop-off format is that once you arrive at Muir Woods you are on your own, and can stay as long as you want… so long as you take the last bus of the day back to San Francisco! There are no tour guides, no group to stay with.
The Sausalito Ferry: With your Clipper Card you don’t need to buy a ticket for the Golden Gate Ferry between the Ferry Building and Sausalito. When you pick up your card you’ll add value to it, so it works as a prepaid credit card. At the ferry pier you just get in line and tap your card on the reader as you approach the ferry. BUT your Clipper Card will not work on the ferries operated by Blue and Gold Fleet between Sausalito and Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. We have lots of Sausalito Ferry information here.
There are also readers at the entrances to BART train stations across the Bay Area, on MUNI trains in San Francisco and other local trains, and on all the regional and local bus services’ buses.
If you didn’t have a Clipper Card, in May there should be no need to buy your ferry ticket more than a day in advance (which avoids the hassle of figuring out the ticket machines on site).
If you have any follow-up questions please feel free to write us again!