How to get to Muir Woods from San Francisco in 5 Ways 

stairway path in between tall trees

A Countdown to the best way to get from San Francisco to Muir Woods

Do you want to see the famous redwoods during your visit to San Francisco? The easiest old growth redwood grove to see from the city is Muir Woods. But as close as it is to San Francisco, getting to Muir Woods from San Francisco can be complicated.

In this article we have collected the 5 best ways to get to Muir Woods from San Francisco. Armed with this information, you will have no problem making your way to Muir Woods and being absolutely amazed by these special trees. 

Note: Head to this article if you are interested in finding out about all of the other redwoods close to San Francisco

Table of Contents

Why go to Muir Woods National Monument?

Muir Woods national monument entrance sign

Muir Woods National Monument is famous for its trees. The tallest tree species in the world, to be exact. We are talking about the Coastal Redwood or Sequoia sempervirens

The coastal redwood is the taller and thinner cousin of the Giant Sequoia. The tallest tree on earth is thought to be a coastal redwood named Hyperion located in Redwood National Park. It measures a remarkable 380 feet tall. 

Coast Redwoods are also remarkably long lived, when left alone. The trees in Muir Woods were spared from the extensive logging of the 19th century. While exact ages are impossible to know without causing damage, it is estimated that the oldest trees in Muir Woods are about 1,200 years old. 

The now endangered coast redwood trees grow only in scattered groves along the coasts of Southern Oregon and California. And not all of those are old growth. So each and every old growth redwood grove left is special. 

Having one of these rare places within an hour’s drive from a big city like San Francisco is an opportunity that no one should pass up. These trees are simply magical to see. Walking among these giants is awe inspiring and for many, is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

What to Do in Muir Woods?

group of people with backpacks  walking through a forest

The focus of Muir Woods is to allow everyone to experience the trees. A 6-mile network of trails, much of which is flat and paved, welcomes you to do just that. 

Every loop hike you can do in the park includes the Redwood Creek Trail. How far you go along it is your choice. You can always simply turn around and head back along this same trail. Or you can cross any one of 3 bridges and head back to the Visitor Center along the opposite side of Redwood Creek. 

These loop hikes are anywhere from 0.5 miles to 2 miles long. All are doable within 1.5 hours at an average walking pace, including time to stop and take pictures. 

If you have the time and the desire, you can connect to trails further up the hill and into Mount Tamalpais State Park, for a full day of hiking. 

There is also a Visitor Center and gift shop to integrate into your Muir Woods visit. You will find books, games, and other gifts and souvenirs that compliment the nature of the coast redwood forest around you. 

How far is Muir Woods from San Francisco?

Muir Woods is only 16 miles North of San Francisco. It is located in Marin County, within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, right in the shadow of Mount Tamalpais.

If driving, the distance can usually be covered in about 45 minutes, without traffic. But driving isn’t always the best way to get to Muir Woods. Read on to find out why.

5 Best Ways to get from San Francisco to Muir Woods

So let’s get to the countdown, shall we? Below you will find the 5 ways to get to Muir Woods from San Francisco, rated from worst to best. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, which we will lay out for you. 

Once you know the details on each, you can make the best transportation choice for you and your group. So let’s get the boring planning out of the way and get you from San Francisco to Muir Woods to walk among those giant trees!

Note: All of these methods (except some tours!) require you to pay your entrance fee into Muir Woods separately. Entrance to Muir Woods is $15/adult. Kids 15 and under are free! It can be paid in advance or upon entry to the park.

a couple drinking wine at a table

Redwoods and California Wine Country Tour

  • 10 Hours
  • 179+

The only wine country tour to combine three Napa & Sonoma Valley wineries with a morning excursion to San Francisco’s stunning Coast Redwood forest – Muir Woods.

More Info
10% OFF Spring Offer
father and his son looking at sequoia in muir woods national monument

Muir Woods Redwood Forest and Sausalito Morning Tour

  • 5 Hours
  • 89+

This is the only Muir Woods tour with guided audio narration inside the park. Walk under the world’s tallest trees, then enjoy charming Sausalito.

More Info
Park admission included

5. Bike to Muir Woods

a bike parked at a pathway in a forrest

Pros: Environmentally friendly, on your own schedule
Cons: Dangerous, Technical

We will start with what is, in our opinion, the worst way to get to Muir Woods from San Francisco. The redwoods are just 16 miles north of the city, so avid cyclists would consider it well within the parameters for a reasonable ride. Even with the hills. 

The problem with this transportation method is not the distance, but the roads themselves. The first portion of the journey is not too bad, including the wonderful and safe ride across the Golden Gate Bridge. Happy tourists do this every day with pleasing results. 

The road leading into Muir Woods is the curvy, steep 2-lane highway 1. This highway has no bike lane, steep drop offs, and heavy traffic. The cars, shuttles, and tour buses required to transfer over 500,000 visitors a year into the park try their best to look out for bicycles, but the truth is the road is just plain dangerous. 

Having said all of this, if you are an experienced and determined cyclist, it is possible to ride a bike from San Francisco to Muir Woods. If you choose to do so, please take all of the precautions possible and know the route well before the trip, as there is no cell phone service in or near the park. 

Biking part of the way from San Francisco to Muir Woods

A better alternative, which still includes a bike ride, is to bike just part of the way. Namely, the first part. Rent a bike in San Francisco and enjoy a pedal over the Golden Gate Bridge into Sausalito. In Sausalito, safely stow your bike and take the shuttle the rest of the way into Muir Woods. More detail on this option later. 

4. Hire a Car/Rideshare from San Francisco to Muir Woods

a photo of a map in a phone to get to muir woods from san francisco

Pros: Convenient to get there, fast, on your own schedule
Cons: Might get stranded, Expensive

Our next method to get to Muir Woods from San Francisco is to book a car. This is one of the most expensive options in this list. With that price tag, it must be the most convenient right? Not necessarily. 

The main problem with booking a service like Uber or Lyft is the return journey. There is no cell service or internet within Muir Woods National Monument. So if you do book a car for the one-way journey to the park, just be sure you have a plan for the way back. You will not be able to book a car from your phone in the park. 

Of course, the solution to the return journey conundrum is to hire a car for the entire day. This will obviously cost you a pretty penny, but you can arrange to have the car meet you back at a predetermined time and not get stranded. 

Hiring a car for part of the way to Muir Woods from San Francisco

You are going to see a pattern start to emerge here. You can always hire a car for just the first part of the journey. Once you are dropped off in Sausalito or Larkspur Landing, you can hop on the shuttle for the remaining trip to Muir Woods. This eliminates the connection problem for the return journey, as cell service is not a problem further outside of the park. 

3. Drive to Muir Woods

a red car driving by tall trees to muir woods from san francisco

Pros: Fast, on your own schedule
Cons: Parking reservation, Parking spot hunting, potentially expensive if renting

Probably the most straightforward way to get to Muir Woods from San Francisco is to drive. We are a country built on the automobile afterall, so the best way to get anywhere is by car, right? Well, maybe not in this case. 

While it may be the first method everyone will think of, driving to Muir Woods is not as simple as it used to be. In an attempt to protect the area and ease the visitation process, the park has implemented a parking reservation system. 

Everyone wishing to park must get a parking reservation BEFORE entry into Muir Woods. If you do not have one, you will need to drive back into cell service and get a reservation, if any are left. This seems silly, but just have your parking reservation purchased and downloaded ahead of your visit and it won’t be a problem.

Parking reservations can be purchased at Go Muir Woods. The rates for reservations are listed below. Note: Rates for parking reservations will be going up by $0.50 on November 1st, 2023. 

Small vehicles (under 17ft.): $9.00

Medium vehicles (17-22ft.): $30.00

Large vehicles (22-35ft.): $45.00

Parking reservations are for a specific date and 30 minute time window. You must show up within the 30 minute window. Once parked, you may stay as long as you would like (until closing), in standard size spaces.

There are only 6 medium and 6 large spaces, so those reservations are only valid for 1 hour and 45 minute visits. If you would like to stay longer you will need to reserve more than one parking reservation in advance. 

You cannot guarantee that there will be a parking spot available for you. That’s right – you can have a parking reservation in hand, but still not find a spot easily. This is more likely to happen mid-morning on, and on weekends. At these times, you may need to circle the lot waiting for someone to leave. 

To increase your chances of finding a spot, head to Muir Woods during the week and/or first thing in the morning, if possible. Of course, this is still no guarantee. The only way to guarantee no parking spot hunting on your trip is to choose one of the next two methods.

Of course there are good things about driving yourself from San Francisco to Muir Woods. If in a standard car, you can stay as long as you would like to enjoy the trails. You do not have to adhere to the schedule of a tour, or worry about when the last shuttle leaves the park. You don’t need to worry about having no cell service for a ride back. 

So we think if you already have a car at your disposal, driving to Muir Woods is a decent option. If you would need to rent a car only to drive there, there are definitely cheaper, and arguably better options for you. 

If, after weighing the pros and cons of driving, you think it is the best method for you, you will need the driving directions to Muir Woods from San Francisco. Below are the basic directions. 

Keep in mind, once again, that cell service and GPS will not work near the park, so make sure you know where you are going, or have a hard copy of the directions with you before you set out. 

From downtown San Francisco:

  • Make you way onto Highway 101 North and across the Golden Gate Bridge
  • Take Exit 445B toward Mill Valley/Highway 1/ Stinson Beach
  • Follow the signs to Highway 1 North
  • Turn left onto Shoreline Highway to stay on Highway 1 North
  • Turn right onto Panoramic Highway
  • Turn left onto Muir Woods Road
  • Arrive at the Parking for Muir Woods National Monument

Keep in mind if you take this route in the opposite direction from Muir Woods to San Francisco, you will need to pay the toll to cross the Golden Gate Bridge southbound.

Driving part of the way to Muir Woods from San Francisco

You know what we are going to say next! You can always drive just part of the way to Muir Woods. For this option, it makes the most sense to drive to the Larkspur Landing shuttle stop. More on this in the next section. 

2. Take the Shuttle to Muir Woods

three shuttle buses parked side by side

Pros: Affordable, environmentally-friendly, on your own schedule (mostly)
Cons: Travel connection planning, slowest, availability changes seasonally

The second best method in our list is to take the shuttle to Muir Woods. This is not a shuttle for the entire journey to Muir Woods from San francisco. The official Muir Woods shuttle is only for the final leg of your journey. 

The shuttle is run by Marin County under route number 66. It picks up from Larkspur Landing Ferry Terminal on Weekends and Holidays year round, and from near the Sausalito Ferry Terminal on weekdays from June – August. 

If those dates work for your trip — Congrats! The shuttle is a super affordable and great way to get to Muir Woods. Shuttle reservations need to be made in advance for the precise shuttle you will take, and you need to get to the shuttle stop at least 15 minutes before that time. Note: The price below will rise by $0.25 after November 1st, 2023. 

Adult (16+): $3.50

Children (15 and younger): Free, but need reservation

Reservations must be made in advance at Go Muir Woods. Each reservation is roundtrip, including your choice of any return shuttle from Muir Woods back to the shuttle stop in Larkspur Landing or Sausalito. Reservations do not include your entry into Muir Woods. Purchase in advance, or when you get to the park. 

One thing to note is the shuttles tend to fill up near the end of the day. To avoid disaster, we recommend planning to not rely on the very last shuttle of the day. We have heard of people not getting a seat on the last shuttle and then having to figure out how to get back on their own. 

Make sure to have your roundtrip shuttle confirmation downloaded onto a phone with plenty of battery life. You will need it for the return shuttle trip when leaving Muir Woods, and you will not have service. 

Where is the Sausalito shuttle stop?

Location: Bay & Bridgeway, Sausalito, CA 94965
Runs: Weekdays, June-August

How to get to Sausalito Muir Woods Shuttle Stop

a large boat cruising with a mountain as a background

Ferry – Adding a ferry ride into your San Francisco trip is a classic. If the weather cooperates, the views along the ride are not-to-miss. You have two ferry options from San Francisco to Sausalito. The Golden Gate Ferry leaves from the SF Ferry Building, and the Blue and Gold Ferry leaves from Pier 41 on the Embarcadero.

Both have multiple daily departures and will run you under $15 each way per adult. The rides are 30 minutes from departure to arrival in Sausalito.  

Bike – San Francisco to Sausalito is a lovely bike ride. Rent bikes on Fisherman’s Wharf, ride along the waterfront, across the Golden gate Bridge, and along Alexander Ave into Sausalito. Just make sure your bike is safely locked up before you get onto the shuttle! There is a seasonal bike valet available at the ferry terminal. 

Public Bus – Take the Golden Gate Transit bus 130 to San Rafeal from downtown. It picks up along Mission St, Van Ness, and Lombard before crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. Get off at the Bridgeway & Bay Street stop, which is very close to the Muir Woods Shuttle stop.

This bus runs every hour in the morning, so it makes for convenient connections for a morning shuttle ride to Muir Woods. Adult tickets are $8.25, paid in cash upon boarding.

Hire a Car – Of course you could always hire an Uber, Lyft, or taxi to Sausalito. For groups, this method may even cost you less than the bus. 

Drive – If you are wishing to drive to a shuttle stop, we recommend driving to Larkspur Landing rather than Sausalito, for the abundant parking. See below. 

Where is the Larkspur Landing shuttle stop?

Location: Larkspur Landing Ferry Terminal
101 E Sir Francis Drake Blvd, Larkspur, CA 94939
Runs: Weekends and Holidays, year round


How to get to Larkspur Landing Muir Woods Shuttle Stop

two girls at the backseat of a red car with their hands raised who are driving to san francisco from muir woods

Ferry – Your only ferry option from San Francisco to Larkspur Landing is the Golden Gate Ferry, departing from the SF Ferry Building. Here is the schedule. The 35 minute ride will cost adults $14 each way. 

Bike – San Francisco to Larkspur Landing is a longer, more complicated bike ride, and one we do not recommend for casual riders. 

Public Bus – This route on public bus requires multiple connections, and we do not recommend it. If you want to take the public bus, take the shuttle bus from Sausalito. 

Hire a Car – Hiring an Uber, Lyft, or taxi to Larkspur Landing is a decent option for groups, although it is a good distance further north, so will be more expensive.

Drive – If you are wishing to drive to a shuttle stop, driving to Larkspur Landing is your best bet. There is ample parking at the Ferry Terminal, which is free on weekends and holidays. 

Bike – San Francisco to Larkspur Landing is a longer, more complicated bike ride, and one we do not recommend for casual riders. 

Public Bus – This route on public bus requires multiple connections, and we do not recommend it. If you want to take the public bus, take the shuttle bus from Sausalito. 

Hire a Car – Hiring an Uber, Lyft, or taxi to Larkspur Landing is a decent option for groups, although it is a good distance further north, so will be more expensive.

Drive – If you are wishing to drive to a shuttle stop, driving to Larkspur Landing is your best bet. There is ample parking at the Ferry Terminal, which is free on weekends and holidays. 

1. Book a Tour to Muir Woods from San Francisco

group of people smiling while exploring the woods

Pros: Stress free, convenient, environmentally-friendly, expert guide
Cons: Set amount of time in park

We have made it to number 1. The best way to get to Muir Woods from San Francisco is to book a tour! As you can see from all of the information above, getting to Muir Woods can be quite complicated. So why not let an expert deal with that mess, while you just enjoy the park?

There are several companies that offer tours to Muir Woods from San Francisco. Below we will give you the details on two tours. The first is a half-day tour that focuses on Muir Woods, with a stop in the charming beach town of Sausalito. The other is a full-day tour beginning with a trip to Muir Woods, and then exploring California wine country in the afternoon. 

Both of these tours are extremely convenient, with pickup in downtown San Francisco. After you board the bus, sit back and relax on your way to Muir Woods as you learn about the park from a local expert.

Muir Woods Redwood Forest and Sausalito Tour

a path in the forest with tall trees

Length: 5 hours
Price: $89 (includes Muir Woods entrance fee!)
Available: Year round, morning and afternoon

This tour includes more than 1.5 hours of free time in Muir Woods. This is more than enough time to walk the Redwood Creek Trail as you listen to an audio narration about the park. Then explore the Bohemian and Cathedral groves, or browse the gift shop before meeting back with your group. 

Enjoy the trip back out of the park and into Sausalito. Grab something to eat and do some exploring and shopping in the charming bayside town. 

When it is time to head back, you have the choice to ride back across the Golden Gate Bridge on the bus, or take the ferry back across the bay. Choosing the ferry option makes this into a fabulously varied tour as you enjoy the views from the water on your way back to the city. 

This tour is available in the morning or afternoon, year round. No need to worry about seasonal shuttles or parking reservations!

Redwoods and California Wine Country Tour 

two people with a glass of wine at a vineyard

Length: 10 hours
Price: $179 (includes 3 wine tastings!)
Available: Year round

For what is possibly the best combo tour Northern California has to offer, combine a trip to Muir Woods with a trip to Napa and Sonoma on this tour. Begin with pickup at or very near your hotel in San Francisco. 

Enjoy a full hour of exploration among the coastal redwood giants in Muir Woods. Walk the Redwood Creek Trail and learn about what you are seeing with your audio tour. 

Hop back on the bus and head to Napa Valley for a wine tasting at a quintessential Napa winery. The group will then be driven to historic Sonoma Plaza for lunch before enjoying wine tastings at two additional wineries. 

On your way back to the city, enjoy a photo stop at the Golden Gate Bridge before being dropped off right back at your hotel. 

Note: While 3 wine tastings are included in this tour price, entrance to Muir Woods is not and must be paid upon entrance.

Final Thoughts on San Francisco to Muir Woods Travel

a woman in a green sweatshirt smiling with tall trees in the background

With this article, you should be able to determine the best way for you and your group to get to Muir Woods National Monument. Whatever choice you make, make sure you enjoy the towering coastal redwoods to the fullest. Breathe deep and make life-long memories in this cathedral to California nature. 

Getting to Muir Woods FAQ

Can you get to Muir Woods without a car?

Absolutely! See methods 5, 2, and 1 above. The most hassle free way is to book a tour. But you can also hop on a ferry over to Sausalito or Larkspur Landing and then connect with the Muir Woods shuttle to reach Muir Woods. 

Are there shuttles to Muir Woods?

Yes, but the shuttles will not take you all the way from San Francisco to Muir Woods. You will need to meet the shuttle in either Sausalito or Larkspur Landing in Marin County. 

Can I Uber from San Francisco to Muir Woods?

Yes, BUT. There is no cell service or internet in Muir Woods. So if you book any type of car, you need to confirm in advance that a car will be waiting for you after your visit for the return journey. You will not be able to easily contact anyone within the park.

The only option for outside communication within the park is an old school payphone. So if the worst case scenario happens and you get stranded, you may be able to call a cab. Avoid this scenario by choosing another way to get to Muir Woods from San Francisco.

Published on: October 23rd 2023
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