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How early should we get to Muir Woods?

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east coast
posts: 24
How early should we get to Muir Woods?

Plan on going to Muir Woods next week on a weekday. How early should we get there to get a parking spot? I think the park opens at 8am and visitor center opens at 9am? Thanks

Fremont, California
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
posts: 15,723
reviews: 2,503
1. Re: How early should we get to Muir Woods?

Depends when you go:

During summer and school vacation break periods, try to get there by 8:30 or 9:00.

during non busy times depends in part on the weather. If clear and sunny out, also get there by 9 or 10. If weather is so-so you can often find a place later in the morning during the week. On weekends tend to get there also before 9 or 10.

Sometimes you can find parking later in the day - but there is nothing close by (except for some marginal road parking - few spots there too) if the parking lot is full.

San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Borrego Springs, San Francisco, Solana Beach
posts: 31,559
reviews: 26
2. Re: How early should we get to Muir Woods?

Last time I went was a foggy, drippy Sunday in January.

We arrived about 9:30 and got a spot in the lot. We hiked out of the Woods to the ridge line so were gone quite some time. When we arrived back at the car it was about noon or 12:30. Cars were parked for at least 2 miles along the road before and after the entrance to the Woods.

The lots there are quite small and many of the spaces are reserved for tour buses or vans.

If you get there before opening you can still enter but please pay your entrance fee on the way out.

Either go early or go late would be my advice.

It's especially nice to be there before the tours start showing up after 10AM. The Woods is not a large place and 20-30 people off a tour bus make a large difference in your experience.

east coast
posts: 24
3. Re: How early should we get to Muir Woods?


Houston, Texas
posts: 241
reviews: 35
4. Re: How early should we get to Muir Woods?

I have a follow on question.... We'll be arriving into SFO at 9:30 on a Monday in early May and then heading to Healdsburg. I was considering trying to do this on the way up. After I collect bags and a car, I sujppose the earliest I would arrive would be around 11am. Is it just going to be too busy>

San Francisco...
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
posts: 26,910
reviews: 132
5. Re: How early should we get to Muir Woods?

It is not Summer vacation time so you can try. Worst case you will have to park some distance and walk which may not be the case in May

Santa Cruz...
Destination Expert
for Santa Cruz
posts: 27,396
reviews: 6
6. Re: How early should we get to Muir Woods?

If you are going to Healdsburg why don't you visit Armstrong Grove Redwoods instead? It is is Guerneville, 17 miles west on Westside road from Healdsburg.

It is much larger than Muir Woods and you won't find tour buses nor parking problems there because it is not contiguous to a large city. The experience is even better.

You can visit it on our way to Healdsburg by taking a scenic diversion. Take East Washington Street in Petaluma across town, where it becomes Bodega Hwy. You will be traveling through pastoral country to Bodega Bay. Bodega Bay is a small fishing village where Alfred Hitchcock filmed "The Birds". (26 miles) Turn north for 10 miles, passing state beaches and when you cross the Russian River, turn right onto Hwy 116, following the Russian River. Guerneville is 12 miles. After visiting Armstrong Grove then take Westside Road the 17 miles over to Healdsburg.


This detour only adds 34 miles to your trip to Healdsburg and is much prettier than driving Hwy 101.

Edited: 11:12 am, February 14, 2013
7. Re: How early should we get to Muir Woods?

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