Just a few exits from San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, a cluster of ancient coast redwoods rises to the heavens in what feels more like the ancestral home to a tribe of Ewoks than a national park visited by millions on the outskirts of one of America’s most vibrant cities.
Wow, that sounded uncharacteristically poetic. I guess the serenity of standing in the majestic shadows of the tallest living things on Earth will do that to even the brashest temperaments.
Like I said, these are the tallest living things in existence on the planet Earth. The entire fucking planet, y’all. And when I say tall, I mean T-A-L-L. One of the trees here tops out at 258 feet — or about the height of a 23-story building. 23 STORIES!
And OLD. Muir Woods has grown for nearly 200 million years. Dinosaurs probably pooped here. While most of the trees in this rare, ancient forest are 500-800 years old, some may be more than 1,000 years old. Take that, old lady who drops the diamond into the ocean at the end!
As you follow the trails along the babbling Redwood Creek, the highlights are the three main groves of trees: Cathedral Grove (enter quietly), Founders Grove with the massive Pinchot Tree, and Bohemian Grove.
We also split off the main paved paths and climbed upward along the Hillside Trail for a view of the canyon from above. The views were insane and it wasn’t strenuous at all. (If you know me IRL, you know that I sprained my hustle muscle years ago and I only sweat when the wine fridge is running dangerously low.)
And even though there are no railings, we miraculously returned to the bottom with the same two live children we started with.
Over a million people visit Muir Woods each year, but it didn’t feel crowded at all. The only chaotic part was the parking lot area. That was a total shit show, but mainly because you’re only allowed in with a separate parking reservation and there are lots of morons who try to just show up.
Reservations to get into the national park are required, via gomuirwoods.com. (I repeat, reservations are required. Also, pay extra for the reserved parking.) I’ve heard they’re really strict about observing your chosen arrival time slot, especially when it comes to parking.
Pro Tip: Stop by the nearby Muir Beach Overlook. Some of the best views of the coastline and no crowds, plus some interesting WWII history to boot.
Where We Stayed: Cavallo Point Lodge
For this leg of the trip, we stayed at Cavallo Point Lodge, an adorable military-base-turned-luxury-hotel with ridiculous views of the Golden Gate Bridge from most rooms. Plus, every evening they host a happy hour on the front porch overlooking a massive play lawn. They had us at free Chardonnay.