National Historic Site
1964: National Historic Site
About the SiteJohn Muir is revered for popularizing the idea of preserving wild lands not for their commodities like timber, grazing, and water, but for their wildness, openness, and natural splendor. Muir was the first president of the Sierra Club and advocated the creation of Yosemite, Sequoia, Mount Ranier, and Grand Canyon national parks.
What You're Going to SeeThis Site preserves the 14-room Victorian home that he lived in from 1890 until his death in 1914, along with 325 acres of open space and 8.5 acres of the fruit ranch. John Muir married into the fruit-ranching Strentzel family in 1880. Martinez would be his home until he died. He was hard-working and astute, and earned enough money from the orchards in five years to support his family for the rest of his life. Visitors can hike, picnic, tour the house and grounds, watch a film on Muir's life. There are guided tours, bird and wildflower walks, and junior ranger programs.
Personal ObservationsJohn Muir National Historic Site is a good visit. It can be explored at leisure, but isn't so huge that one feels daunted. Take your time in the four-story house, see how Muir and his family lived back then. Wander through the orchards of apple, cherry, and citrus trees, enjoy the peach and cherry and almond trees. You can find plums, prunes, grapes, walnuts, pears, apricots and lemons. If in season, the Rangers will give away samples to visitors. "We can't charge you for the fruit", I was told by one helpful ranger in the small visitors center, "because you own it." He smiled. In season, the gardeners harvest the fruit and place it in boxes behind the visitors center.
Getting ThereNear San Francisco Bay, in Martinez. From Oakland, go north on I-80 and take Highway 4 east to Martinez, and take the Alhambra exit. Turn north (right) on Alhambra; the Site is immediately north of the highway, on your left (west).
Nearby AttractionsTake a breath! There's a reason San Francisco is such a popular place. Within a few miles of John Muir National Historic Site, you'll find: Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historic Park, Fort Point National Historic Site, San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park, Eugene O'Neill National Historic Site, Muir Woods National Monument, and Point Reyes National Seashore. Don't forget California Coastal National Monument.