Monday, June 23, 2014

Visiting the Redwoods at Muir Woods, California

When booking our cruise in January, we already knew we'd be doing our own thing and not purchasing any of the ship excursions. In general, cruise ship excursion prices are double what you could get if you did the research on your own. Plus, besides driving, attempting to get the best deal or haggling is a big plus for Tom. But when we booked in January, and clicked over to the excursion page (to steal some ideas for us to book on our own), and we saw Muir Woods.

YES! A resounding yes (yes, yes, yes) it was worth it.

We almost hurt ourselves considering how fast we clicked the Pay Now button. And we never buy shore excursions from cruises. But, this one we had to go see. And according to a quick search, while Muir Woods is transit accessible by taking the ferry to Sausalito and then a bus, we decided to let the tour company handle all that. I'm glad that we did, because that entire morning we spent the day riding the cable cars and trolley. Tom's day was complete. Any city with transit (or cool transit), you can bet we're riding on that. But after a crazy morning, it was time to give public transit a rest (did I say that?!?) That doesn't sound like me. Yes it does. I wanted to be chauffeured around. I was tired.

So. Muir Woods. It's the woods, but on steroids. I've grown up surrounded by heavily forested woods, but I have always wanted to see the redwoods. And, since Tom is always ready to do anything new, he was excited too. Maybe not as excited as me though.

We were in San Francisco on a Monday in early May, so of course this was not as busy as it would be on a weekend or in the summer. It was perfect! I was able to take photos without people in them. I could at times hear absolutely nothing but nature (which is very highly valued by a country girl). At one point Tom went up a higher path to explore. Being alone in an empty park means I got to be 'alone with nature'. And now I sound like a tree-hugger. Whatever. It was perfect.

Some Wikipedia history along with our photos:
Before the logging industry came to California, there were an estimated 2 million acres (8,000 km2) of old growth forest containing redwoods growing in a narrow strip along the coast.
By the early 20th century, most of these forests had been cut down. Just north of the San Francisco Bay, one valley named Redwood Canyon remained uncut, mainly due to its relative inaccessibility.
This was noticed by U.S. Congressman William Kent. He and his wife, Elizabeth Thacher Kent, purchased 611 acres (247 ha) of land from the Tamalpais Land and Water Company for $45,000 with the goal of protecting the redwoods and the mountain above them.
In 1907, a water company in nearby Sausalito planned to dam Redwood Creek, thereby flooding the valley. When Kent objected to the plan, the water company threatened to use eminent domain and took him to court to attempt to force the project to move ahead. Kent sidestepped the water company's plot by donating 295 acres (119 ha) of the redwood forest to the federal government, thus bypassing the local courts.
On January 9, 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt declared the land a National Monument, the first to be created from land donated by a private individual. The original suggested name of the monument was the Kent Monument but Kent insisted the monument be named after naturalist John Muir, whose environmental campaigns helped to establish the National Park system.

Kent and Muir had become friends over shared views of wilderness preservation, but Kent's later support for the flooding of Hetch Hetchy caused Muir to end their friendship.
In December 1928, the Kent Memorial was erected at the Kent Tree in Fern Canyon. This tree—a Douglas fir, not a redwood—was said to be Kent's favorite. Due to its height of 280 feet (85 m) and location on a slope, the tree leaned towards the valley for more than 100 years. According to Muir Woods Storms in El NiƱo years of 1981 and 1982 caused the tree to tilt even more and took out the top 40 feet (12 m) of the tree. During the winter of 2002–03, many storms brought high winds to Muir Woods causing the tree to lean so much that a fissure developed in January 2003. This fissure grew larger as the tree slowly leaned more and more, forcing the closure of some trails. On March 18, 2003, at around 8:28 pm, the tree fell, damaging several other trees nearby. The closed trails have since been reconfigured and reopened.
In 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge was completed and park attendance tripled, reaching over 180,000. Muir Woods is one of the major tourist attractions of the San Francisco Bay Area, with 776,000 visitors in 2005.
In the spring of 1945, delegates from 50 countries met in San Francisco to draft and sign the United Nations Charter. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945, shortly before he was to have opened the United Nations Conference. On May 19, the delegates held a commemorative ceremony in tribute to his memory in Muir Woods' Cathedral Grove, where a dedication plaque was placed in his honor.

The monument was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on January 9, 2008.

We attempted to take some photos with the trees, but ended up looking scary (half of us, anyway)...
or really goofy. What tourists, right?

The tour company that we used with Norwegian Cruise Lines did an amazing job. With the transportation to the park, we were able to enter right in without having to search hard for a parking spot (which is, according to TripAdvisor, a pain to get) and we received a narration of the above wiki history. I would definitely recommend going to Muir Woods, and using a tour company if you are looking for an easy experience without having to worry about transporting yourself to and from San Francisco (by car or transit).

However you choose to do it, Go. 
Go. Do not think about doing anything else. Go to Muir Woods.

So tell me...

-Have you every gone to Muir woods, or any forest with redwoods or Sequoias? 
-Did you love it? Where was it?
-Would you go, or is nature 'just not your thing'?


  1. I love walking through the woods. This looks quite gorgeous!

    1. It was amazing. If ever in this area again we're definitely returning :)

  2. What a beautiful place! I loved going to Sausalito for brunch and some hiking when I lived near SF!

    1. Our tour stopped in Sausalito for an hour or so. Such a nice place to relax and people watch. Didn't know you lived in the area, guess most of my vacation recaps are old news to you :)

  3. Muir Woods is such a beautiful, magical place. I'll never never forget that I had my hair cut off after my wedding at a salon right outside of there. I had grown it super long for my wedding and wanted it cut short. It wasn't my best haircut :(

    1. It's so weird how certain things (like cutting your hair) remind us of places. And, I guess being traumatized exacerbated it

  4. These woods are beautiful. I hope to visit them one day. Thanks for sharing your pics!

    1. They were gorgeous, I couldn't help taking so many photos. I would definitely recommend them (or any redwood/sequoias for that matter). I imagine they are all equally gorgeous.


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