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Muir Woods National Monument

Muir Woods National Monument - BEST Places to Picnic

Mill Valley
California 94941-2696


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Phone
Visitor Information
(415) 388-2596
Visitor Information (Recorded Message)
(415) 388-2595

Explore the Muir Woods National Monument!

"This is the best tree-lovers monument that could possibly be found in all the forests of the world," declared conservationist John Muir when describing the majestic coast redwoods of Muir Woods.

History

Muir Woods has a rich and varied history, from its use by the Coast Miwok people, to its early days of tourism, to an era of conservation, to modern preservation. In each era, the forest has been affected by the actions of humans, for better or for worse.

President Theodore Roosevelt used the powers of the Antiquities Act on January 9, 1908, to create Muir Woods National Monument.  William Kent, who donated the land for the monument, requested that it be named for noted conservationist John Muir.

William Kent: Philanthropist, Politician, Businessman. Until the 1800s, many northern California coastal valleys were covered with coast redwood trees similar to those now found in Muir Woods National Monument. 

The forest along Redwood Creek in today's Muir Woods was spared from logging because it was hard to get to. Redwood Creek contained one of the Bay Area's last uncut stands of old-growth redwood, Congressman William Kent and his wife, Elizabeth Thacher Kent, bought 611 acres here for $45,000 in 1905. 

To protect the redwoods the Kents donated 295 of the land to the Federal Government and, in 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt declared it a national monument. Roosevelt suggested naming the area after Kent, but Kent wanted it named for conservationist John Muir.

John Muir: Philosopher, Scientist, Author. Young John Muir's family emigrated from Scotland to Wisconsin in 1848. Muir had a lively interest in nature and after brief studies at the University of Wisconsin he left school for what he would call "the University of the Wilderness." 

On his lengthy wanderings Muir contemplated man's relationship to nature, concluding that all life forms have inherent significance and the right to exist. Humans, Muir decided, are no greater or lesser than other forms of life. Muir eventually won public acceptance of conservation as an environmental ethic and inspired generations of wilderness advocates.

Nature

The incredible diversity of flora and fauna at Muir Woods can be daunting some times, elusive at other times. The redwoods themselves dominate the scene, but Steller's jays often steal the show. 

Ladybugs clustering by the thousands on ancient horsetail ferns boggle the imagination, while the slimy banana slug is able to disgust and fascinate all at once. Plants adapt to low light levels on the forest floor, while whole plant and animal communities bustle in the canopy above our heads.

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