5 Ways to Reach Muir Woods from San Francisco (With Some Cautionary Tales!)
Hey there, fellow adventurers! Ready to escape the city chaos and dive into the enchanting realm of Muir Woods? You bet you are! But hold on tight because the journey from San Francisco to these colossal redwood trees offers a rollercoaster of options. Buckle up as we take you through the best (and not-so-best) ways to reach this natural wonderland!
Listen up, folks! Just a hop, skip, and jump north of San Francisco lies the glorious Muir Woods National Monument. And boy, is it a treat for the eyes! But don’t be fooled by its proximity; getting there can be quite the puzzle. Fear not, though, ’cause we’ve got you covered! We’ve scouted out five different ways to traverse the distance between San Francisco and Muir Woods, and let’s just say not all roads are smooth and easy.
Get ready for an adventure as we reveal our favorite option for a convenient and hassle-free ride to the land of the giant redwoods!
Why Muir Woods is a Must-See
Before diving into the transportation options, let’s quickly touch upon why Muir Woods is such a popular and highly recommended activity:
- The Trees: The main draw of Muir Woods is its breathtaking coastal redwood trees. These magnificent giants are a rare sight, only growing along the Pacific coastline of California and Oregon. Muir Woods stands out as one of the most famous coastal redwood parks in the world!
- Coastal Redwoods: These trees are close relatives of the Giant Sequoias, boasting red bark, towering heights, and incredible longevity. In Muir Woods, you’ll find some of the tallest trees, reaching up to 258 feet, with the oldest known tree dating back 1,200 years.
- Hiking Trails: Once inside the park, you’ll be greeted by a network of hiking trails and walking paths that wind their way through the majestic redwoods. For an easy stroll with historic landmarks, the Bohemian Grove trail is a favorite. If you’re up for a more challenging hike, the seven-mile Dipsea Trail offers stunning ocean vistas in the Bay Area.
Now, let’s get to the exciting part—how to get there!
Transportation Options from San Francisco to Muir Woods
Muir Woods is about 17 miles north of San Francisco, and fortunately, you have a few transportation options at your disposal. Let’s take a closer look at each:
Option One: Ride-Sharing or Taxi to Muir Woods: Think Twice!
Don’t Be Fooled by the Short Drive!
Planning a trip to Muir Woods from San Francisco? The thought of using Uber or Lyft might be tempting, but hold your horses! Let me give you the lowdown on why this seemingly convenient option might end up as a transportation nightmare.
The Illusion of Budget-Friendly Rides
Sure, at first glance, ride-sharing or taxis might seem like a pocket-friendly choice, but trust me, they’re not the best bang for your buck when it comes to reaching or leaving Muir Woods. Let’s take a reality check here; these options aren’t the way to go.
Easy to Get There, Tough to Get Back
Sure, you can easily reach Muir Woods with these services, but getting back is a whole different story. Picture this: once you’re amidst the enchanting natural beauty, your phone loses its signal, meaning no Uber or Lyft app to arrange your ride back. Talk about being stranded among the towering redwoods!
Limited Options for the Journey Home
And don’t even think about relying on public transit – it’s almost non-existent except for a few pre-booked shuttles. Finding your way back becomes a challenging puzzle without these rare shuttles to rescue you.
Time for a Blast from the Past!
Oh, here’s a quirky surprise waiting for you at Muir Woods – one functional pay phone, possibly the last of its kind in California! Dialing it might connect you to a cab, but be prepared to shell out $50 to $75 for a Taxi ride back to San Francisco.
Bonus fun! A Dash of Adventure: Unplugged Navigation!
Hold on tight, as the last few miles in your Uber or Lyft will be an unplugged adventure! The limited GPS signal in and around Muir Woods means you’ll be navigating sans the help of Google Maps. Buckle up for an exciting ride!
So, my friend, while Uber or Lyft might seem like a convenient choice for your Muir Woods trip, their drawbacks for the return journey are pretty evident. It’s better to explore alternatives or pre-book a reliable cab to ensure a smoother and more enjoyable adventure in this scenic wonderland.
Option Two: Rent a Car or Drive Your Own Car
If you’re still up for planning your own trip to the Redwoods, driving yourself or renting a car is definitely a way to go! This is relatively easy to set up with a bit of preparation beforehand. No planning or last minute – then this will not be a great way to get there!
With advanced planning, this will all work out!
The drive from San Francisco to Muir Woods
The journey covers about 13 to 17 miles, depending on your starting point in San Francisco. The first 10 miles are pretty straightforward and take around 45 minutes from the city. You’ll begin by crossing the iconic Golden Gate Bridge and taking Exit 445B from Highway 101. From there, continue along CA-1 through Mill Valley until you reach the entrance to Muir Woods.
The last part of the drive is on a tight, two-lane highway with twists and turns. Be aware that there are no shoulders or bike lanes, so proceed with caution.
Important Parking Information
Driving to Muir Woods? Plan ahead for parking! Parking at Muir Woods must be reserved in advance, and the fees are as follows:
- $9 for a standard car
- $12 for charging an electric vehicle
- Extra charge for vehicles over 17 feet
Remember, the $15 per person entrance fee is not included in the parking fee. You can not purchase parking at the park itself, so make sure to reserve your spot beforehand. Don’t drive into the Park and expect to pay for parking on arrival.
Getting parked, then some days a bit of a hike to the Muir Woods entrance
Parking areas are within walking distance from the park entrance, and your reservation guarantees you a spot in one of these areas. Parking ambassadors will guide you to an available parking spot upon arrival. Keep in mind that there’s no passenger shuttle from the parking areas to the park entrance, so be ready to walk.
Pro Tips for a Smooth Experience
To avoid any hiccups, download your parking reservation to your phone ahead of time. There’s no cell service or Wi-Fi at Muir Woods, so having your reservation ready is essential. Otherwise, you will need to drive back to where there is cell service and start again.
Additionally, book your parking pass early, as available parking can sell out quickly on busy days.
The Right Way to Drive to Muir Woods – And the wrong way!
Now, here’s the correct approach: Don’t head out from San Francisco on a beautiful morning without a reservation, and expect to park and enjoy the trees. Parking requires a reservation and fills up fast.
Make a parking reservation well in advance and be sure to print it out or take a screenshot. Without cell or Wi-Fi service in the woods, you won’t be able to pull up the reservation on your phone once you’re there.
So, get your wheels ready, make that reservation, and have an amazing time exploring the wonders of Muir Woods!
Option Three: Pedal at Your Own Risk – Biking to Muir Woods Not Recommended
Thinking about cycling to Muir Woods? Well, hold on tight! While some people do brave this road on their bikes, we strongly advise against it for a few good reasons.
A Risky Ride
The last few miles leading to and from Muir Woods are far from bike-friendly. Blind corners, no shoulders, and a lack of bike lanes make this winding road a risky proposition for cyclists. It’s definitely not a route for casual riders.
Explore Safer Bike Trails
If you’re keen on exploring Marin County on two wheels, there are plenty of amazing bike trails better suited for all levels of cyclists. Opt for these trails, and you’ll have a safer and more enjoyable biking experience!
So, while the idea of biking to Muir Woods might sound adventurous, it’s best to play it safe and choose one of Marin County’s fantastic bike trails for a smoother ride. Happy pedaling!
Option Four: Jump Aboard the Muir Woods Shuttles
If you’re eager to explore the majestic Muir Woods but want a convenient and stress-free journey, the Muir Woods shuttles have got your back! These shuttles operate from Marin County and offer a smooth ride to the park entrance, making it a fantastic choice for those looking to do some serious hiking or immerse themselves in the beauty of the forest floor.
I’m staying in San Francisco: How do I get from San Francisco to the Muir Woods Shuttle Locations in Marin County?
Getting to the Muir Woods shuttle locations in Marin County from San Francisco is easy and starts with a scenic adventure! Here’s the step-by-step guide:
- Take the Ferry to Sausalito or Larkspur: Head to the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero or Pier 41 in Fisherman’s Wharf and catch a ferry across the bay to either Sausalito or Larkspur. Choose from the Golden Gate Ferry and the Blue & Gold Fleet Ferry
- Hop on the Muir Woods Shuttle: Once you arrive in Sausalito or Larkspur, it’s time to board one of Marin Transit’s Muir Woods shuttles that will take you directly to the park.
Pro Tip: If you’re on a budget, combining the ferry and Muir Woods shuttle is one of the best ways to travel from downtown San Francisco to Muir Woods. Remember to check the ferry schedule in advance, as availability can vary based on the season and day of the week.
The Ferry Crossing Experience
The ferry ride itself is a delightful experience, offering breathtaking views of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, the San Francisco skyline, and the notorious Alcatraz. Although the ferries are not the fanciest, they provide a wonderful opportunity to enjoy a waterfront view of San Francisco. The crossing usually takes around 30 minutes, and upon reaching your destination, whether it’s Larkspur or downtown Sausalito, you’re just steps away from embarking on the Muir Woods shuttle to continue your journey.
Pros and Cons of the Ferry and Muir Woods Shuttle Option
- The ferry crossing is an enjoyable experience in itself.
- Perfect for those who want to take their time and enjoy a full day at Muir Woods.
- Offers an affordable transportation option.
- No worries about parking hassles.
- The journey may take a bit longer, especially considering the various modes of transportation involved.
Next Step: Pick one of the two Shuttle locations depending on if you are arriving by Ferry from San Francisco, driving your own car or staying in Marin.
Let’s find the best Muir Woods Shuttle Location for you:
Choosing the right Muir Woods shuttle location depends on how you plan to travel. Let’s break it down based on different scenarios:
If You’re Coming by Ferry from San Francisco: Sausalito Shuttle is the best choice
- Shuttle Location: Bay & Bridgeway, Sausalito, CA 94965
- Available on: Summer weekdays only
- Ferry Terminal: The shuttle stop is just a five-minute walk from the Sausalito Ferry Terminal.
- Operating Months: The Sausalito shuttle runs during the Summer months on weekdays and does not operate year-round.
- Shuttle Schedule: The first shuttle departs around 8:30 am, and the final shuttle leaves Sausalito in the early afternoon.
- Important Tip: Arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled departure time, as the shuttle won’t wait for latecomers.
- Round-Trip Ticket: You don’t need to purchase a second ticket to return to Sausalito.
- Stay Duration: You can spend as much time as you want in the park or until the final shuttle departs.
- Children’s Tickets: Kids 15 and under ride free, but remember to book their tickets through the system.
- Travel Time: The shuttle ride from Sausalito to Muir Woods takes about 30 minutes
- Transit Connections: You can access the Sausalito shuttle from San Francisco and the North Bay via Marin Transit: Route 17, Route 71X, Golden Gate Transit: Route 30, Golden Gate Ferry and Blue & Gold Fleet Ferry
If You’re Driving your Car or a Rental Car: The Larkspur Landing Shuttle is your best choice
- Shuttle Location: 101 E Sir Francis Drake Blvd, Larkspur, CA 94939
- Available on: Weekends and holidays year-round.
- Parking: Free parking is available at Larkspur Landing, making it ideal for visitors with their own or rental cars.
- Shuttle Schedule: This shuttle operates only on weekends (no weekdays or holidays) throughout the year.
- Arrival Time: Arrive at least 15 minutes before your scheduled departure time.
- Close to Larkspur Ferry: The shuttle picks up near the Larkspur Ferry, making it convenient for travelers from various spots in Northern California.
- Additional Details: The shuttle leaves from 101 E. Sir Francis Drake Blvd. and takes about 30 minutes to reach Muir Woods.
- Transit Connections: You can access the Larkspur Landing shuttle from San Francisco and the North Bay via Marin Transit Route 228, Larkspur Ferry, or the SMART Train.
Helpful Tips for the Muir Woods Shuttles:
- Online Reservation: Make an online shuttle reservation before your trip.
- Specific Reservation: The reservations are location and departure-time specific, so arrive on time.
- Flexible Return: Although you need to book a specific time for your ride to Muir Woods, you can hop on any shuttle returning to your starting location.
- Early Shuttle: Last shuttles of the day fill up quickly, so taking an early shuttle ensures you don’t miss a ride back.
- Location Confirmation: Before booking, confirm the starting location you want to use; you can’t board at the other shuttle location.
- Entrance Fee: Your shuttle reservation does not include the entrance fee into Muir Woods National Monument.
- Accessibility: All shuttles can accommodate two wheelchairs each.
- No Bikes or Pets: Bikes are not allowed on the shuttles or in Muir Woods, and only service dogs are permitted.
Now that you have all the details, pick the Muir Woods shuttle location that suits your travel plans and get ready for an amazing adventure among the ancient redwoods!
Option Five: Our Favorite – Private Jeep Tours from San Francisco to Muir Woods
If you’re looking for an unforgettable and hassle-free adventure to Muir Woods, our private Jeep tours are the way to go! These tours offer a fantastic guided experience both on the way to and from the park, making it a trip to remember.
Let’s check out the two fun Jeep tour options:
- Duration: 3+ hours in the morning or afternoon
- Highlights: Includes a visit to the charming bayside town of Sausalito and amazing views of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.
- Group Size: Perfect for small groups of up to 6 guests per Jeep.
- Experience: You’ll be accompanied by your own private driver/guide, ensuring a personalized experience.
- Additional Stop: Enjoy the breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean from the Muir Beach Overlook.
- Duration: Approximately 7+ hours
- Highlights: This full-day adventure covers Muir Woods in the morning, lunch in Sausalito, and the Golden Gate Bridge, and the iconic spots of San Francisco in the afternoon.
- Group Size: Seats 6. Ideal for up to 4 adults and 2 children, making it perfect for families and small groups.
- Experience: Travel in style with your own guide in an open-air Jeep, taking in the sights and sounds of the city and the majestic redwoods.
- Scenic Stop: Take a moment to appreciate the beauty of the Pacific Ocean from the Muir Beach Overlook.
Pros of taking a Private Jeep Tour to Muir Woods:
No Parking Hassles: Forget about searching for parking; the tour can also include hotel pick-up and pre-paid park admission.
Travel at Your Own Pace: Enjoy the flexibility of a private tour, customizing the experience to your preferences.
Your Own Private Driver/Guide: Benefit from a dedicated guide who will enhance your journey with their knowledge and insights.
Exciting Stops: Explore iconic landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge and the lovely town of Sausalito.
Scenic Overlook: Marvel at the stunning views of the Pacific Ocean from the Muir Beach Overlook.
Our private Jeep tours offer a delightful way to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Muir Woods and its surroundings. Say goodbye to worries and embrace the adventure, whether you choose the half-day Giant Redwoods tour or the full-day city and nature combo tour. Get ready to create cherished memories amidst the giant redwoods and the picturesque landscapes of Northern California!