Founded in 1908, Muir Woods National Monument is a popular attraction about 30 minutes north of San Francisco. Most people don't realize this, but it's one of the few places in the world where you can still see indigenous Coastal Redwood trees.
The park is open 365 days a year, so it's the perfect item to add to your San Francisco itinerary. It opens at 8 am each day, but closing times differ depending on the season. Parking and ticket reservations are required for your visit.
How long should you spend in Muir Woods? If you plan to explore the central area, I recommend setting aside a couple of hours for your visit. If you plan to take one of the longer trails, you could spend up to 3 to 5 hours hiking around it.
In my opinion, the best time to visit is early in the morning as the fog is still hanging around the park. It gives it a mystical and peaceful feel to it. If you plan to stay for a couple of hours, the fog will sometimes burn off, and you can see its beauty in the sun, too!
Discover more here about some of the best tours to take if you want to avoid driving and the new rules for Muir Woods parking if you do plan to drive.
This species of redwoods is a close relative to the Giant Sequoias (which you can find a few hours away from SF). The Coastal Redwoods thrive in this area due to its cool, foggy climate all year long.
The average age of the trees here is between 600 to 800 years old. They originally thought the oldest tree was around 1,200 years old, but recently found out it's around 800 years old.
Even though this seems quite ancient, this forest is actually relatively young, as redwood trees can live for up to 2,200 years.
One of the best things about visiting this park is that the redwoods are easy to access. Instead of having to trek miles into it, you will see the trees the minute you enter the park.
Muir Woods National Monument is easy to explore for almost everyone since the main wooden walking paths are flat, wide, and well-maintained. It is wheelchair-accessible, and service dogs are allowed in, but they must always be on a leash.
Along the main wooden trails, you will also get the chance to learn more about these rare trees. I love that you will find educational signs and displays every few feet.
One of my favorites is this display that shows the growth pattern for a 1,000+ year-old redwood.
The inner circle shows that it started growing around 909 A.D.
The outer circle shows important dates in US history, so you get a sense for the types for events that happened during this tree's life. The final marking shows the date when the tree fell.
How tall are these trees? According to the National Park Service, the tallest redwood currently in Muir Woods National Monument is around an amazing 258 feet tall.
These pictures give you a sense of their height.
You will find about two miles of flat trails in the canyon area of the park. This includes four bridges that allow you to easily loop around the park and see a number of these gorgeous trees.
Most people follow one of the three main trails mentioned below. The estimated times listed include time to stop along the way to read the signs and take pictures. I also included the total distance so you get a sense of how long your walk will be on each loop.
Bridge 2 Loop: On this walk, you will go all the way to Bridge 2. After you cross the bridge, head to your left. This takes you back to Bridge 1 and puts you on the main trail where you started. This walk is about a half mile and takes 30 minutes.
Bridge 3 Loop: Take the main trail all the way to Bridge 3. Cross the bridge and head to your left. You will again walk all the way to the end, cross Bridge 1, and return to the main trail. This loop is about 1 mile and takes about an hour.
Bridge 4 Loop: Walk the main trail to the end, where you will find Bridge 4. Walk across the bridge and take a left to head back to the entrance. After that, you will go along this second path and continue to Bridge 1. After you cross this bridge, you will be back on the main trail near the park entrance. This loop is about 2 miles and takes about one and a half hours.
In addition to the flat, wooden walking paths, there are also several great hiking paths within the park. The 560-acre park has a total of six miles worth of trails. There are four additional miles with unpaved routes that take you up and down hills.
Once you reach the park's edges, many of these trails link up with longer trails on Mount Tamalpais. If you want to learn more about these routes, you can pick up a hiking map at the Muir Woods National Monument entrance.
NOTE: Bikes are not allowed in the park.
On the eastern side of the main trail, which is near to Bridge 1, you will find the restrooms, a gift shop, and a small café. It's the perfect place to relax or fuel up either before or after your hikes.
There is another set of restrooms and a small gift shop at the park entrance.
The café is open from 10 am and runs until 1 hour before the park closes. There are picnic tables outside of it. The retail store hours are from 9 am to 1 hour before the park closes.
The park is open every day of the year, including holidays. The park's hours change based on the season and when the sun goes down. Here are their typical hours by season.
Disclaimer: I receive a small commission from some of the links on this page.
Many people choose to take a tour to get to Muir Woods National Monument. This option saves you the hassle of renting a car for the day and dealing with Bay Area traffic. It also means you don't have to fight for parking, which is really difficult here on the weekends and during the busy summer months.
Since Muir Woods is pretty close to SF, most people stop in Sausalito either before or after their visit. This tour combines a trip to both. It also includes a 60-minute narrated cruise around the bay.
If you want to visit both Muir Woods and California's Wine Country, then this is the tour that I'd recommend for you. This full-day tour lasts around 9 - 10 hours and is packed with activities.
NOTE: You can also book this as a private tour if your group has up to 20 people.
Below are a few other top Muir Woods tours.
The next best option (aside from the tours) to get to Muir Woods National Monument is to drive. It's an easy drive across the Golden Gate Bridge through Marin County. From most places in San Francisco, it's about a 45-minute drive.
The drive is gorgeous. After you leave Hwy 101, you will drive along a curvy road that weaves back and forth through part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. You will see some great views of the forest, and in some spots, you can see the Pacific Ocean.
All personal cars will need to have a parking pass, which must be reserved in advance, to visit Muir Woods. This new policy helps relieve parking issues and makes it safer for everyone.
The cost to park is $9 for a standard-sized car. They have two electric vehicle spots and they cost $12. If you have a medium-sized vehicle (17 to 22 feet), it will cost $30. For all large-sized vehicles (22 to 35 feet), the price is $45.
You will also pay the normal admission price to enter the park.
The shuttle runs on weekends and holidays, with frequency depending on the season. Reservations are required for a specific departure time; no walk-ups are accepted.
There are two shuttle stop locations, both in Marin:
The shuttle costs $4.00 per person for a round-trip ticket. Passengers ages 15 and younger ride free but still require a reservation.
The shuttle allows for up to two wheelchairs at a time, so if you are bringing one, you probably want to book as far as possible in advance. The only animals allowed on the shuttle are service dogs.
The registration system is now open. Visit their site for more information and to book your parking spot or shuttle ride.
I recommend wearing layers during your visit here. It's often cool, foggy, and moist in the mornings and warmer in the afternoons.
However, even if it is sunny before you arrive at the park, don't let the weather forecast fool you. The tall trees block the sun, so it might still be cool in the forest, even on a warm day.
Here are some average Muir Woods temperatures to help you plan for your visit:
You will also want to prepare for rain between late October and late March.
I recommend wearing comfortable, flat shoes or tennis shoes. Even though the walkways are wooden, the parking lots are dirt.
You will be happy with comfortable shoes if you end up having to walk down the gravel roads to get to the park entrance.
Here are some additional tips for what to wear each month when visiting SF.