1908: National Monument
About the SiteNot far from San Francisco, some 30 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge, lies a stand of old-growth coastal redwood trees. Walk through this forest and you'll get an idea of what it was like to live 300 years ago, when forests covered the continent. Now, only 150,000 acres of old-growth redwoods remain, and here is where you'll find wonderful examples of the world's tallest trees. This is an ancient stand of trees, surrounded by ferns and moss and lichens; steelhead and salmon swim the Redwood Creek.
What You're Going to SeePrepare to be awed. These trees are huge - thick and tall and simply wonderful. There's a cathedral-like feeling in these woods; you feel Nature in all Her glory here. It's quiet, so very quiet, one naturally speaks in a hushed voice. Whether that's due to the shade that prevents flowers, and insects and birds, or whether one feels reverence for such a beautiful spot, only you can decide. But take your time here, walk the paths slowly, read the literature from the rustic visitors center and learn about the fish, about the narrow redwood root system, learn how these magnificent trees can only survive here where they're fed 40 inches of rainfall in the winter, and nourished with coastal fog in the summer.
Personal ObservationsWe felt almost ashamed to let our kids run and shout along the paths. No one gave us dirty looks, there were no signs saying "Keep Children in Check", but the woods just have that effect. The visitors center is wonderful, lots of things to learn, there's a grill too for hungry travelers. The road to Muir Woods is twisting, so don't drive a long vehicle. The parking lots fill up quickly, so getting there early in the morning makes sense.
Getting ThereFrom San Francisco, drive north on Highway 101 over the Golden Gate Bridge. At Tamalpais Valley, turn left on Highway 1. After two or three miles, turn right on the Muir Woods Road, and follow the signs to the Monument.
Nearby AttractionsWhat a wonderful area of the country. Within a few miles of Muir Woods, you'll find: Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial, John Muir National Historic Site, Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park, Fort Point National Historic Site, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, Eugene O'Neill National Historic Park, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and Point Reyes National Seashore. Don't forget California Coastal National Monument.