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Muir Woods National Monument, California

(NPS Photo) Redwoods at Muir Woods.

Tucked in the steep slopes of Redwood Canyon in Marin County grows a grove of majestic redwood trees, some over a thousand years old. By 1870, much of the easily-accessible forest of northern California had been logged, but this grove survived through the efforts of conservationists concerned with the loss of nature. Muir Woods NM protects the only old-growth coastal redwood forest in the Bay Area, one of the last such forests on the planet.

Redwoods are truly amazing trees: they are the tallest trees on Earth, reaching heights of over 368 feet. They are among the widest trees on earth, reaching diameters at their base of over 30 feet; and among the oldest trees in existence, the oldest on record having lived 2,200 years when it was cut down. Redwood ancestors first began growing on earth over 250 million years ago. They resist insects, fungus, fire, and earthquake; and support a unique ecosystem in the process.

In 1905, Congressman William Kent of California and his wife Elizabeth acquired the land covered in uncut stands of old-growth redwood that is now Muir Woods NM. In 1907, a water company in the nearby town of Sausalito planned to dam Redwood Creek. The company went to court to condemn the land, but the Kents thwarted the plan by donating the core of the redwood forest, totaling 295 acres, to the federal government. Kent asked that it be named after the influential conservationist, John Muir. Muir Woods NM was the first national monument created from land donated from a private individual.

On January 9, 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt signed the presidential proclamation declaring Muir Woods National Monument, describing its significance as “an extensive growth of redwood trees (Sequoia sempervirens) of extraordinary scientific interest and importance because of the primeval character of the forest in which it is located, and of the character, age and size of the trees” (Proc. No. 793). “This is the best tree-lovers monument that could possibly be found in all the forests of the world,” declared conservationist John Muir.

Over 1 million visitors enjoy Muir Woods' 560 acres every year. Visitors can relax and enjoy the coastal scenery at Muir Beach and Stinson Beach; hike through the Olema Valley; and visit the visitors center. They can see the tallest type of tree in the world, the Coast redwood, Sequoia sempervirens, as well as the countless other plants and animals that are part of an old-growth redwood forest, including tanoak trees, ferns, redwood sorrel, steller jays, black-tailed deer, and banana slugs, to name a few.

Recent visitors have said:

  • “When I walk among these ancient redwoods I feel close to the heart of nature.”
  • “I was raised walking among the Muir Woods redwoods, my children took their first nature hikes here and we're continuing the tradition with the grandchildren...thank you for taking care of these trees truly for future generations.”
  • “We often seek refuge from city life among the redwoods and appreciate a chance for solitude, peace and quiet, a breath of fresh air to recharge this urban dweller's batteries.”
  • “The redwoods are one nature's wonders, thank you Mr. Kent and thank you NPS for making sure they're protected and well cared for. I hope I return.”
  • “I always bring my out of town guests to the most beautiful place on earth: the redwoods here in Muir Woods. No matter the weather or the crowds, everything is perfect, something special happens and we feel so much better upon leaving.”
  • “This is one of both the nation's and nature's treasures and I'm glad my taxes pay to take care of them.”
 

MJB/TSM

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