Is Muir Woods Worth Visiting: Why You Should or Should Not Visit

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Muir Woods National Monument is famously known for its epic redwood forest of over 554 acres. It is a frequently visited destination in northern California, but is Muir Woods worth visiting? I am a Bay Area local and have been to Muir Woods on more than one occasion. Find out the truth if Muir Woods should or should not be added to your northern California bucket list.

What Is So Special About Muir Woods

What makes Muir Woods so special is its rich history. It was declared a national monument by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908 to protect the land, wildlife, and redwood forest for many years to come. The property was named after John Muir, “The Father of the National Parks” who was a famous environmentalist.

is muir woods worth visiting

Muir Woods is home to the iconic Sequoia sempervirens, also known as California redwood. They are some of the tallest trees on earth that only grow near the coast of California and Oregon. The redwoods in Muir Woods range between 600 to 800 years old and are about 258 feet tall.

Is Muir Woods Worth Visiting: Why You Should Visit

Muir Woods National Monument is a popular tourist destination for many reasons. For example, it is a world-renowned destination, within driving distance from San Francisco, near other fantastic locations, and a gorgeous redwood forest. Here are the top reasons why you should visit Muir Woods.

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    An Enchanting Redwood Forest

    The most obvious reason to visit Muir Woods is to experience the giant and magical redwood forest. Walking through a redwood forest for the first time feels like you have been transported to a different world. It truly does make you wonder how am I still in California. You feel so tiny walking among these ancient giants.

    the beautiful redwoods at muir woods national monument

    Muir Woods is also a great way to really connect and unwind in nature. The lush forest and wildlife are a wonderful break from the hustle and bustle of the city.

    Located Just Outside of San Francisco

    It will blow your mind that this place exists just outside of San Francisco. If you are spending a couple of days in the Bay Area, Muir Woods is the perfect day or half-day trip to visit these unbelievable and historic redwood trees in person.

    Muir Woods is located in Marin County, approximately 16 miles from San Francisco. It is about a 40-minute drive without traffic from San Francisco to Muir Woods. If you do not have access to a car, getting to Muir Woods from San Francisco can be a little tricky and does require some pre-planning. However, it is easy to do and absolutely worth the trip.

    I have broken down and described in detail the best way to get to Muir Woods from San Francisco here. If you plan on driving, you can also find details on parking and other must-know tips before your trip to Muir Woods.

    Book a Muir Woods Tour + Wine Country

    Booking a tour is a fantastic and unique way to see Muir Woods! If you book a tour, you don’t have to worry about extra planning or public transportation. And you get to make the most of your day trip and see more fabulous locations in the Bay Area.

    visit wine country after you tour muir woods

    The Muir Woods and Wine Country tour is the perfect addition to your San Francisco trip because you have the opportunity to visit two very popular Bay Area locations in one day. Your tour guide will pick you up from your San Francisco hotel and head directly to Muir Woods National Monument. After your hike in the redwood forest, up next, is gorgeous wine country!

    Your tour guide will take you to three wineries in Sonoma and Napa Valley. Soak in the beautiful views of cascading vineyards and taste world-renowned wine. There is also an option to add on a 3-course gourmet lunch with your wine tasting. I do recommend adding on the lunch because most wineries do not serve food.

    I love this tour because it’s a great combo of adventure, nature, epic views, delicious food, and fantastic wine. Seriously what else do you need?

    βœ… Check rates and availability for Muir Woods and Wine Country here

    Located Near Other Must Visit Locations

    If you are already planning on leaving the city, you should absolutely take advantage of the day and visit other awesome spots in Marin County. Some of our personal favorites are:

    dog friendly muir Beach
    Muir Beach
    • Sausalito: A charming small town located across the Golden Gate Bridge. Offers sweeping views of the bay and San Francisco city line.
    • Muir Beach: A local’s favorite beach and hidden gem with picturesque views of rock formations and sandy beach.
    • Muir Beach Overlook: Great spot for panoramic views of the Pacific Coast and the Point Reyes Peninsula. 
    • Stinson Beach: A stretch of white sandy beach. A local beach that is great for picnics and walking along the water. Also, dog friendly! 
    • 🐾 Here is my dog-friendly guide on Stinson, Muir Beach, and Muir Beach Overlook here
    • Mt. Tamalpais State Park: If you are a hiker, this is the spot for you. Mt Tamalpais offers incredible trails that lead to spectacular views of Marin. On a clear day, you will have views of San Francisco and the Bay, Marin County hills, and Mount Diablo.

    πŸš«πŸš— If you don’t have a car, no problem. You can book a tour and they take care of the planning and reservations for you. This tour visits Muir Woods with lunch in Sausalito.

    βœ… Check rates and availability for Muir Woods & Sausalito Half Day Tour here

    Another great tour to see more of San Francisco, Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito, and Muir Woods is this bike tour. You have the choice of an electric or a 7 speed bike for tour.

    bike across the golden gate bridge to sausalito

    βœ… Check rates and availability for Bike & Golden Gate Bridge and Shuttle Tour to Muir Woods here

    Multiple Hiking Trails

    Another reason why Muir Woods is worth visiting is the multiple hiking trails. You can easily spend hours and upon hours exploring the miles of trails throughout Muir Woods.

    is muir woods worth visiting

    The main path in Muir Woods National Monument consists of 6 miles of different trails, including the most popular trail, Redwood Creek Trail. It is an easy 1-mile path through the redwood forest along Redwood Creek. This is the trail you would want to do if you are limited on time, but still want to get a good feel and experience of Muir Woods.

    If you want to do even more exploring, you can find hikes that extend out and connect to Mount Tamalpais State Park. You can even hike to Muir Beach or Stinson Beach from Muir Woods. For all of Muir Woods hiking trails, you can go here.

    Accessible By Wheelchairs and Strollers

    What I love about the setup of Muir Woods is that is accessible by wheelchairs and strollers. The main trail in Muir Woods consists of 6 miles of paved trails that are asphalted or on a boardwalk. Parking, the cafe, and the gift shop are accessible and they offer many other accessible features. To get the full accessible features at Muir Woods list you can go here.

    the main trail in muir woods is paved and accessible by wheelchairs and strollers

    Also, it is great if you are with small children or a group that does not want to partake in any hiking. You can still stroll along the main paved trail and fully experience walking through the coastal redwood grove. The trails on the canyon wall are not recommended for strollers or wheelchairs because they are dirt, steep, and narrow.

    Is Muir Woods Worth Visiting: Why You Should Not Visit

    To truly make the decision if Muir Woods is worth visiting, then you need to know the reasons why you should not visit.

    Muir Woods Can Get Crowded

    One of the reasons why you visit Muir Woods is to enjoy the stillness and beauty of nature. And honestly, that kind of gets ruined when there are huge crowds of tourists visiting at the same time as you. Muir Woods’s peak season is between May to October.

    If you are visiting during the high season, your best bet to see the redwoods without crowds is to avoid weekends and holidays. Admission at Muir Woods is free on holidays. However, I think I would rather pay the $15 than try to tackle the lines and the copious number of people.

    Another tip would be to plan your visit early in the morning or late afternoon. Muir Woods doesn’t close until 8 pm, so if you choose to visit later in the day, you will still have plenty of time for hiking and seeing the redwoods.

    Not the Only Place to See Redwoods

    Not many people know this when visiting northern California, but there are actually multiple places you can find redwood trees. Muir Woods National Monument is the most popular location, but it doesn’t mean you still can’t see some giant redwoods somewhere else.

    Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park, Located in the East Bay in Oakland.

    Other nearby locations to see redwood trees:

    • Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park: Located in the East Bay in Oakland. It’s our favorite hiking location in Oakland. Tons of incredible trails that lead to a lush redwood forest. Also, dog friendly!

      Another reason to visit would be to check out Oakland and Jack London Square. Jack London is Oaklands waterfront that is bursting with culture, restaurants, tasting rooms, and breweries.
    • Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve: 805 acres of coastal redwoods located in Sonoma County. 🍷 Thinking about wine tasting in Sonoma? Here are the best ways to get from San Francisco to Sonoma
    • Butano State Park: Offers 40 trails through redwood trees, canyons, streams, and wetlands. It is a lesser known redwood park, so you will find fewer crowds here than visiting Big Basin or Muir Woods.
    • Big Basin Redwoods State Park: It is the oldest state park in California and home to redwood trees that have been around for 1,000 to 1,800 years. You can also find a number of beautiful waterfalls along the redwood trails.

      ⭐️ If you are visiting Butano State Park or Big Basin Redwoods, make a pit spot in Pescadero. Pescadero is a small coastal town in northern California. It is a popular location to visit for its sandy beaches, stunning coastal views, dairy farms, and famous garlic artichoke bread.

    Need to Make Your Reservations in Advance

    Muir Woods is not the easiest place to visit last minute, especially if you are planning on going during peak season. If you are driving to Muir Woods, you must make a parking reservation before your visit. If you do not have a parking reservation, they will turn you away.

    Also, there is no service at Muir Woods, so you would have to drive back down the mountain to look up the next open parking reservation. To reserve your parking at Muir Woods you can visit here.

    If you do not have a car, then you still need to make plans and arrange for transportation to and from Muir Woods. You can either do that by booking a tour or taking public transportation.

    Dogs are Not Allowed in Muir Woods

    For all of the dog parents out there, you will be disappointed to know that Muir Woods is not dog friendly. If you are planning on traveling with your furry friend, there are plenty of other dog friendly locations you can see instead.

    You can check out one of the other redwood forests in the Bay Area that I recommend above. Or other dog friendly locations nearby are: Muir Beach, Stinson Beach, Muir Beach Overlooks, and Sausalito.

    battery spencer trail in sausalito, a dog friendly hike to see the golden gate bridge

    For all of my California dog friendly content you can go here. One of our personal favorite dog friendly locations is Half Moon Bay. Half Moon Bay offers dog friendly beaches, restaurants, and hikes nearby.

    The Verdict: Is Muir Woods Worth Visiting?

    A popular Bay Area location, but is Muir Woods worth visiting? Now you know all of the reasons why you should or should not visit Muir Woods. However, in my opinion, despite the extra planning and crowds, I do believe that Muir Woods is worth visiting.

    There are plenty of other locations where you can see redwood trees. However, Muir Woods is a destination that you should at least visit once. It is a historic and internationally known national monument. Even though it has become a little “touristy” the natural beauty and impressiveness of the redwoods still remain. You will not regret spending the day or afternoon discovering these ancient giants.