What should you know before you visit Muir Woods National Monument
Know before you go: Muir Woods Par of Redwoods is Not Your Best Option!
Towering, majestic redwoods and giant sequoias inspire awe and incredulity regardless of where they stand, but the truth is that some places to view them are far, far better than others. Muir Woods has its own charms on many levels, especially with its proximity to the Bay Area – but it’s not the best place to experience the old-growth soldiers of nature we collectively call “redwoods.”
There are two main reasons for this: crowded bus tours, and the variety of redwoods that actually live in Muir Woods. The number of visitors to Muir Woods is increasing year over year, with large bus tours bringing thousands and thousands of tourists into its park of redwoods. Increased traffic inevitably detracts from the otherwise unspoiled natural beauty of California’s cherished state parks, and it means long lines, noise, impossible parking (and parking fines), and overused facilities.
The ancient sky-scraping forests of California are also home to more than one species of giant trees, and the type growing in Muir Woods are coastal redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens), also referred to as giant redwoods. Though striking in their own way, the ones living in Muir Park are typically not the tallest, nor are they the massive, drive-through trees featured in documentaries and nature books.
For that, you’ll need to visit Redwood National Park in Northern California, home to the world’s tallest and real redwoods. Private tours by limo or SUV are more the norm there, along with small-group custom tours with personal guides. If you really don’t have time for the longer drive, at least find a private tour guide to take you to less crowded and more pristine forests of giant redwoods near San Francisco, and far away from the crowded parking lots of Muir Woods forest.
It’s important to understand that coastal redwoods, which thrive in the moist humidity of the Northern California coast, are very different from their cinnamon-colored cousins, the giant sequoias of the Sierra Nevada(Sequoiadendron giganteum.) The largest living trees on earth, they grow only on the western side of the Sierra Nevada range, in both Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks.
The biggest living tree, a sequoia known as General Sherman, weighs in at 2.7 million pounds and rises to 275 feet from its 100-foot-wide base. However, redwoods still carry the record for height, with Hyperion towering above Redwood National Forest at 379.1 feet. An experienced private tour guide can get you in the heart of the remote, untouched forest lands for an up-close-and-personal experience with these gentle giants of nature.