You’ve spent months planning a vacation to San Francisco and, with good reason, Muir Woods is on your list of places to visit. The pocket of old-growth redwoods a short drive from San Francisco is one of the top tourist attractions in the area. But the National Park Service announced that Muir Woods will be closed indefinitely starting Monday, January 7. Parking lots, restrooms and visitor services will be shut down due to the government shutdown.
Oh no, you say, how am I going to see the majestic redwood trees? Don’t worry, we’ve got your back. Check out our top five places to see towering redwood trees while Muir Woods is closed. A few options are within a 10-minute drive of Muir Woods, including a secret back door entrance to the monument.
5. Armstrong Redwoods
A beautiful and mostly flat area of redwood forest with wide, accessible trails just minutes from the Russian River. Make a giant loop from San Francisco, driving along Highway 1 past Point Reyes and Bodega Bay, then come back to the city on Highway 101 for a faster return.
4. Santa Cruz Mountains
For another day trip from the city, head south to either Big Basin or Henry Cowell State Park. For a bonus, the creeks through both of these parks will be spectacular following the heavy rains. For a longer but very worthwhile detour, include the popular and hip beach town of Santa Cruz.
3. Samuel P. Taylor State Park
This is one of our favorite summer camping spots, located about 45 minutes north of the city. It has some great hiking through stately redwoods, too. Pay the day fee at the front gate and pick up a trail map. You’ll be surrounded by redwoods before even leaving the parking lot!
2. Golden Gate Park
Believe it or not, you don’t ever have to leave the city to bathe in a grove of gentle giants, though they aren’t as tall in the park. Head to Hoover Redwood Grove with plenty of parking off of MLK Drive or Aids Memorial Grove, one of our favorite hidden spots situated on the eastern side of the park near the Conservatory of Flowers.
1. The Back Door into Muir Woods
If you’re intent on trying to get into Muir Woods and you have the stamina for a 5-mile hike with elevation changes, this is your best bet. Find the Panoramic Trail across from the Mountain Home Inn on Mount Tamalpais and follow signs for Muir Woods. You might encounter trail closures before making it all the way down to the forest floor (i.e. the main paved trail through Muir Woods), but you will be immersed in redwood forest long before. An alternative lies a few miles further on Panoramic Highway. Hop on the challenging 4.6 mile Dipsea-Steep Ravine Loop starting from the Pantoll Campground parking area.