Travel Magazine

Muir Woods: California's Tallest Trees

By Carolinearnoldtravel @CarolineSArnold
Muir Woods:  California's Tallest Trees What is taller than the Statue of Liberty, weighs more than a big ship, and is the world’s tallest living thing?  The answer: the coast redwood tree.  Reaching heights of more than 350 feet, the coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) is taller than any other living plant. (The actual tallest tree, named Hyperion, in a remote forest in northern California, is 379.1 feet tall.)  The largest redwood trees, some of which began growing more than 2000 years ago,  are also some of Earth’s oldest living things.  One of the best places to see redwoods is in Muir Woods, a National Monument in Marin County, California, just a 45 minute drive from San Francisco.  Last December (2010), when we were in the Bay Area, we did an excursion to Muir Woods with our family.
Muir Woods:  California's Tallest TreesI have been to Muir Woods many times, but I am always awed by the towering grandeur of the trees, which seem to go up, and up, and up, and are impossible to capture in a single photo.  The damp wintry weather on the day of our visit lent a forest primeval sense to the air.  And, despite the mass of cars in the parking lot, once we started walking on the trails marked through the park, it did not seem crowded by people.
Muir Woods:  California's Tallest TreesMuir Woods is home not only to redwoods, but a wide variety of other plants and wildlife.  On the day we visited, everyone was excited because, for the first time in several years, the salmon had returned to the creek to spawn.  (Once hatched, salmon spend their adult life in the ocean, only returning to their home creek to mate and lay eggs.)  As we stood on the bridge over Muir Creek and gazed into the shallow water, we could see the slippery fish churning their way upstream. 

Muir Woods:  California's Tallest Trees

You have to look closely to see the salmon in the water

Entrance fees: The entrance fee to enter the park is $5 for adults and free for children under 15.  However, a number of days in the year are free.  Or, if you have a National Park Pass, as I do, everyone in your group is free.
Getting there:  Muir Woods is located 11 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge. Take Highway 101 to the Highway 1/ Stinson Beach Exit. Follow the signs to Muir Woods. Roads to the park are steep and winding. Vehicles over 35 feet long are prohibited. Parking space is very limited and fills quickly on most days. There are no RV parking facilities. For an interactive map, please visit http://maps.google.com/maps and type in Muir Woods National Monument. (My advice:  On weekends and in summer, you may have to park up to a half a mile away, so it is best to drop off your passengers at the entrance so everyone doesn't have to walk from where you park your car.)
Muir Woods:  California's Tallest Trees
Book about the redwoods: For a wonderful children’s book about redwood trees, packed full of facts and illustrated with an imaginative twist, go to Redwoods by Jason Chin.

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