For the first time in a century, visitors will soon need a reservation to enter the famous Muir Woods National Monument in Marin County. The National Park Service and Marin County have agreed on a deal beginning January 2018 that will limit vehicle access and parking at Muir Woods and will set caps on the number of visitors allowed in the monument. More than 80 percent of the visitors to Muir Woods come by private car and about 20 percent by tour bus or shuttle bus. Only a handful hike into Muir Woods and they would not be affected.
Muir Woods now draws nearly 1 million visitors a year — more people than the entire population of San Francisco — creating traffic jams on the narrow, winding roads that lead to the woods, and a huge parking problem. The proposed solution will require advance reservations to drive or take a bus to Muir Woods, using a system similar to the one used for visits to Alcatraz Island. Commercial buses, shuttles, and disabled vehicles will be guaranteed parking at the first parking lot closest to the woods, while public parking will need a reservation for a specific day and time. Tour buses will be able to renew their Commercial Use Authorization each year with no additional fees and be guaranteed two first lot parking spaces at any time.
The Park Service says the vehicle reservation system will cut the number of daily visitors to the woods from more than 6,000 visitors during peak periods from April to October now to a maximum of about 4,500. It would also restrict visits the rest of the year to about 2,800 a day to reduce the amount of vehicle-generated runoff into nearby Redwood Creek during the rainy season.
Visitor Tip: We strongly recommend taking the Muir Woods Shuttle bus on weekends and holidays beginning Saturday, May 13 through October 29, 2017, and on weekdays between June 19 and August 11, 2017. Parking can be time-consuming, distant and frustrating… just the opposite of the calm serenity people come to Muir Woods to enjoy.