Recent changes to the Muir Woods reservations system have made it challenging to visit the park. Most notably, you must make reservations before visiting the park.
Getting to one of the most popular National Monuments in America — Muir Woods, home to an ancient grove of San Francisco redwood trees — is no longer as easy as it once was.
Typically, the most challenging part of visiting Muir Woods National Monument is finding somewhere to park. However, since 2018, you need to book advanced Muir Woods reservations for parking as well!
We’re here to help you plan your Muir Woods reservation to see the towering redwoods of Muir Woods National Monument!
Here are some things that you need to know about the Muir Woods reservation system and what this means for the average Muir Woods reservation cost.
Changes to the Muir Woods Reservations Visiting System
Since 1908, Muir Woods has been open to the public as a treasured National Monument. People have been showing up when they pleased for 110 years to enjoy the beauty of the redwoods. But as of January 1, 2018, all that changed.
These days, if you want to visit Muir Woods, you will have to make a reservation for a parking spot. The problem is the spots often sell out weeks or months in advance.
You will need to make an $8 reservation to secure a parking pass. In case you managed to reserve a parking spot but need to cancel you have to do this 72 hours ahead of time, otherwise, you will lose your money.
Transportation to the woods has always been an issue, and this won’t be changing. The parking lot only holds space for 232 cars, and the shuttles to the forest are still infrequent. Keep in mind that if you manage to take a shuttle, make sure you have a shuttle pass.
Some things are staying the same in the Muir Woods visits. You can still be in Muir Woods as long as you like, soaking up the beauty of the forest.
Visiting on Your Own
So let’s say you’re planning to visit Muir Woods and you plan to arrange the trip on your own. The first step is you’ll have to make is a reservation for your parking spot. Muir Woods sees thousands of visitors every day, and the national park is anticipating parking reservations for Muir Woods to be in high demand for the limited spots. So, guests are encouraged to reserve as far in advance as possible.
With your reservation in place, you’ll have to make sure you book it out of the hotel quickly enough to make your 30-minute window for your registered arrival time.
NOTE: there is no WIFI or cell phone reception at Muir Woods. So make sure to download your parking pass in advance or you will have to drive back to a point you do have cell phone reception and this may cost you your parking spot.
Warning: Taking Uber / Lyft / Taxi to Muir Woods
You may be tempted to take a ride share to Muir Woods, however not only will it cost a great deal, you will not be able to arrange a trip home as you will have limited cell phone service. There is a pay phone where you can call a ride, but it will take quite some time for your ride to arrive!
Make Muir Woods Reservation Easy
If you’d like to skip all the hassle, you can hire a tour to handle the reservations and transportation for you.
Below are a few benefits of taking a tour to Muir Woods.
If you’re planning to visit Muir Woods, you’ll have a few options for how to get there. You can drive your car, but you’ll need a reservation to park, as well as money for the parking fee. You can take a cab, an Uber, or a shuttle, but these can be expensive or may only run at certain times.
Many tour services provide complimentary transportation from your hotel to Muir Woods as part of the service. The bus will pick you up at a predetermined time, and you’ll be able to relax on the ride out to the monument. No having to drive through a new city, no expensive cab rides, and no shuttles that only run twice a day. This also saves you a lot of time because you don’t have to worry about reserving a parking spot months in advance.
- Don’t Worry About Navigation
One of the biggest advantages of taking a tour of Muir Woods is that you’ll get to pay attention to the scenery. When you’re driving by yourself, especially on the winding mountain roads that lead to the monument, you need to pay attention. This means you can’t enjoy the sights going by your windows.
- Be Safe When Hiking
Hiking through Muir Woods is an inspiring experience, but it does require some safety precautions. The park is filled with wildlife, and you need to make sure you know how to navigate it safely. If you do run into a large predator, you need to know how to protect yourself.
Tour guides can help you follow some simple precautions to keep you safe during your tour. They will have an eye out for the usual dangers and will know how to handle them if they arise. Not to mention if a large animal comes across your path, there’s safety in numbers with a tour.
Going on a tour will mean you can leave the navigation to the pros while you soak in the beauty of the forest. The tour drivers will take those mountain roads nice and easy, which can make the trip easier for those prone to motion sickness. And once you arrive in the forest, you won’t have to worry about getting lost; you can enjoy the splendor of the monument worry-free.
- Know Which Trails to Hike
When you’re planning your visit to Muir Woods, you may have specific things you want to see. Maybe you want the experience of standing under the tallest of these colossal trees, or maybe you want to see a black-tailed deer or a mountain lion. Picking at random which trails you want to hike is not a good way to make sure you get what you want out of the experience.
A tour guide has the expertise to know which experiences which trails offer in Muir Woods. You can talk to them about what it is you’re wanting to see, and they can recommend the best trail for you to take. They can also give you a heads-up about any particularly beautiful spots you should look out for on the trail.
- Be Prepared for Weather
Although Muir Woods is on the coast of sunny California, it is prone to sudden fogs springing up. The weather stays around 70 degrees for most of the year, which is glorious when the sun is out. But when the fog rolls in, the weather can turn damp and chilly.
Your tour guide will know what the weather will be like on the day of your tour and can help you dress accordingly. If it’s going to be foggy that day, you’re going to want a jacket, and they can give you that heads up before you leave the hotel. It’s worth the cost of the tour just to avoid spending the whole day damp and shivering.
- See Other Surrounding Sites
While Muir Woods is a spectacular sight to see, the monument is relatively small. You can see all the sites in a couple of hours, and once you are done, you may be wondering where to go next. Many Muir Woods tours will answer that question for you.
The San Francisco area has a plethora of amazing sights to see, and most Muir Woods tours cover more than one monument. You can get tours that take you through the vineyards in the area, the largest Chinatown outside of Asia, the place where the hippie revolution started, and the filming location of Mrs. Doubtfire. Pick and choose what you want to experience on your trip and find a tour company that can make it all happen for you.
Learn More About Visiting Muir Woods
Muir Woods is a stunning monument, and you want to make sure you make the most of your visit there. Visiting Muir Woods with a tour guide is the best way to make sure that happens and your family has a safe, fun time.
If you’d like to arrange a Muir Woods tour, check out the rest of our site at Dylan’s Tours. We provide minibus and bike tours around the San Francisco area, including Sausalito, Muir Woods, and Alcatraz. Learn more about our private tours and see the best of what San Francisco has to offer.
Any way you slice it, the new Muir Woods reservations system has made it harder for people to people visit this iconic grove of redwoods. Since the change, most days Muir Woods is sold out, especially in the busy summer months.
If you’d instead go with a bus tour of San Francisco and Muir Woods (and let us handle the reservations), use the discount code “CHOOSEYOURTRAIL” for 10% off our Famous Tour to Muir Woods or our Bike the Bridge & Muir Woods Shuttle! Our check out our San Francisco private tours which allow you to customize your Bay Area experience.
Ready to plan your trip? Check out the #1 Muir Woods tour in San Francisco for the easiest way to visit the redwoods!
Alternatively, if you’re just looking for an easy way to get to Muir Woods without a tour, our direct shuttle from San Francisco is also a great option!