Visitor Information (Recorded Message)
Explore the Muir Woods
"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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.