Searching for the easiest way to get from San Francisco to Muir Woods? We’ve got you covered! Learn about our favorite option for convenient transportation between the famous redwood park and the city.
Located just a few miles north of San Francisco, Muir Woods National Monument is a must-see for Bay Area locals and tourists alike.
Why is visiting muir woods such a popular and highly recommended activity?
There are hundreds of reasons to visit this national monument, but we think the main draw is simply this: the trees.
Muir Woods is home to some of the most magnificent and rare trees in the world—coastal redwoods. These trees only grow on the Pacific coastline of California and Oregon, and Muir Woods is perhaps the most famous designated coastal redwood park in the world!
Coastal redwoods are a close relative of the Giant Sequoia, and are renowned for their fragrant red bark, towering heights, and longevity. In fact, Muir Woods’ tallest tree is 258 feet tall, while the oldest known tree in the park is dated at 1,200 years.
Once you get into the park, you’ll find a network of hiking trails and walking paths that wind through the magnificent redwoods.
The Bohemian Grove trail is a favorite with both locals and tourists, and probably the most popular walk in Muir Woods. This well-maintained path is reasonably flat and is a direct route to several important historic landmarks and some of the most famous redwoods in the grove!
If you’re up for a more strenuous hike, Muir Woods is also criss-crossed by a series of moderate to advanced trails that will take you out of the valley to mountain peaks and hidden beaches. We’d recommend the seven-mile Dipsea Trail, which offers some of the most spectacular ocean vistas in the Bay Area.
Once you’ve spent enough time wandering through the coastal redwoods, be sure to stop in at the park’s very own cafe! Located on the valley floor, Muir Woods Trading Company Cafe serves up delicious local cuisine and specialty beverages. Try the Marin Melt for a savory bite or the Local Wild Berry Scone for a sweet treat.
Unfortunately, sorting out transportation to all this fantastic walking, dining, and hiking near San Francisco can be a bit complicated.
So if you’re planning an excursion to this national park site, keep reading to learn about our favorite way to get from San Francisco to Muir Woods!
DIY transportation from San Francisco to Muir Woods
How far is Muir Woods from San Francisco?
The park is located in the town of Mill Valley, about 17 miles north of San Francisco. Since it’s so close to the city, there are a variety of do-it-yourself transportation options for getting to the park. We’ll look at the pros and cons of ride sharing, biking, driving, and public transportation.
Since it’s such a short drive, you may be tempted to use a standard taxi cab or ride sharing service like Lyft or Uber. However, we’d like to strongly caution you against these options for a couple of reasons.
While ride sharing or taxis may seem like budget friendly options up front, in fact they are some of the least cost-effective ways of getting to or from Muir Woods.
Here’s the thing: there’s no cell service in Muir Woods. So, you might be able to ride-share your way from San Francisco to Muir Woods. But you won’t be able to order a ride for the way back!
There is a functioning pay phone in the park, so you could at least call a cab to take you back to Sausalito or San Francisco. But since a standard taxi cab typically charges a minimum of $75 each way, your wallet won’t thank you for choosing this option.
Another downside of ride sharing is that there isn’t any GPS signal in Muir Woods or the surrounding roads. So unless your driver knows their way without the help of Google Maps, you may not even make it to the park in the first place!
For serious cyclists, it is possible to bike into Muir Woods. However, be prepared to spend several grueling hours on your bicycle each way.
You’ll have to tackle some serious hills on the route from San Francisco to Muir Woods. There also isn’t a bike trail. So, you’ll be sharing the narrow, winding roads along with dozens of tour buses and personal vehicles.
Because of the distance, the steep terrain, and the dangerous roads, we don’t really recommend biking as a great option for how to get to Muir Woods from San Francisco.
If you still want to plan your own trip up to the San Francisco redwoods, we’d recommend either driving yourself or using public transportation. Both of these options are fairly budget-friendly, reliable, and relatively easy to set up if you don’t mind doing a bit of preparation before your trip.
Depending on traffic, it typically takes a little less than an hour to drive to Muir Woods from San Francisco.
If you don’t have your own car, it’s reasonably affordable to rent one for the day and set your own pace for the drive up to the redwoods near San Francisco.
If you choose this option, you’ll need to be sure to make a Muir Woods parking reservation in advance before you go.
A parking spot costs $8 per vehicle, on top of the $15 per person Muir Woods entrance fee.
But here’s the catch. Your reservation does not guarantee that you will have a parking spot waiting for you at your selected time. Having a Muir Woods reservation parking ticket only means that once a spot is available, you can park there.
The parking lot fills up early and many visitors spend hours enjoying the hiking trails through the redwoods. So chances are pretty high that you will end up spending a while circling the parking lot in search of an available spot.
You also need to be aware that there’s no WiFi or cell phone reception in the park. So, if you arrive in the parking lot without a reservation, you’ll need to drive back out of the park to get service. Then, if they haven’t sold out for that day, you can purchase a parking reservation and hopefully find a vacant spot when you get back into the park!
Another option for getting to the park is by using the public transportation system.
To do this, start by taking a bus or the ferry from San Francisco to Sausalito, Mill Valley, or Marin City. Once you get to one of these towns, you can hop on one of Marin Transit’s Muir Woods shuttle that will take you directly into the park.
The standard Marin Transit shuttle ride to Muir Woods only runs on weekends and holidays. In addition to this, the Sausalito and Marin City Hub locations operate on weekdays during the peak summer season from June to August. Please note that the shuttle that leaves from Mill Valley only operates on weekends and holidays, even over the peak season.
You’ll need to make an online shuttle reservation before your trip. The reservations are location and departure time specific, so be prepared to arrive at the right time and place.
While you’ll need to book a specific time for your ride to Muir Woods, you can hop on any shuttle returning to the location you left from. However, please note that the last shuttles of the day do fill up quickly, so we’d recommend taking an early shuttle to make sure you can catch a ride out of the park!
Driving or taking public transportation to Muir Woods are reliable, budget-friendly options. But, they do have some considerable drawbacks.
If you choose public transportation, you’ll have to purchase multiple tickets and be on top of getting yourself in the right place at the right time for all of your connections. And if you drive, you’ll need to rent a vehicle and make a parking reservation in advance. Then once you get to Muir Woods, you will most likely lose a lot of time circling the full parking lots in search of a spot.
As you can see, there are a variety of options for sorting out your own ride from San Francisco to Muir Woods, from biking to renting a car and driving. But if you’re looking for a hassle-free experience that will provide reliable, stress-free transportation, most of these standard options simply won’t work.
So, what is the best way to visit Muir Woods?
Due to the complications of private and public transportation options, we’d like to recommend this roundtrip San Francisco to Muir Woods shuttle as the best option for visiting the park!
The Best way to get to Muir Woods from San Francisco
San Francisco to Muir Woods Round Trip Shuttle
Departure Time: 2pm
Departure Location: Dylan’s Tours Bike Shop - 782 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco
Tour Length: 3.5 hours
Weather: Tour operates year round in rain or shine
Cost: $49 per person + $15 per person Muir Woods admission fee
Our new round trip shuttle from San Francisco to Muir Woods is a one-of-a-kind Bay Area experience.
With this shuttle, heading north to Muir Woods couldn’t be simpler. You just have to do three things: hop on the bus, relax on the guided round trip ride, and enjoy more than an hour on your own in the park.
We’ll take care of all of your park reservations and the transportation to and from the city. So, you won’t have to deal with the hassle of pre-purchasing a parking spot or shuttle ticket, renting a car, or finding convenient public transportation across the bay.
Ready to enjoy a relaxing, scenic adventure in Muir Woods?
Here’s How it Works
To start with, you’ll meet your shuttle driver outside of Dylan’s Tours bike shop at 2pm. After a brief roll call, you’ll hop on the minibus to enjoy a scenic guided ride across the Golden Gate Bridge and through Marin County.
Along the drive, your driver will share stories about the history of the city and offer recommendations on hiking paths to take and other things to do in Muir Woods.
Upon arrival in Muir Woods National Monument, we’ll drop you off near the park entrance. We’ll have taken care of your park reservation ahead of time, so you’ll be guaranteed entry to the redwoods. However, please note that the actual Muir Woods entrance fee is not included in the tour price, so, you will have to purchase an admission ticket.
Then, you’ll have over an hour in Muir Woods to explore the trails and extraordinary beauty of the coastal redwoods.
We’ll give you plenty of time to enjoy the breathtaking scenery before asking you to meet up with us again at the park entrance. Finally, we’ll hop back on the tour bus for a relaxing ride back across the bay and into San Francisco.
The tour bus will drop you off at the same location where you first boarded it, at our bike rental shop on Columbus Avenue in North Beach/Little Italy.
This private guided tour only costs $49 per person, plus the additional $15 Muir Woods entrance fee. So, it’s a high value option that will save you time and make your visit to the redwoods fun and stress free.
With the new regulations on parking and tour buses, planning a trip to Muir Woods can be overwhelming and stressful. But, with this direct shuttle, it certainly doesn’t have to be!
We love Muir Woods National Monument and feel that everyone should be able to experience this magnificent park, no matter what your budget or time allowance. So, we hope that this guide of our favorite ways to visit Muir Woods from San Francisco helps make your travels easy, hassle free, and fun!