Muir Woods Tours from San Francisco

This post compares and reviews tours to and from Muir Woods, including organized tours from San Francisco as well as how to visit on your own.

 

 


WHY VISIT MUIR WOODS

The Muir Woods National Monument is an area just north of San Francisco in Marin County, California.

The Muir Woods is famous for its beautiful coast redwood trees, which can reach a staggering height of more than 300 feet (92 meters) and live for over 1,000 years!

 

Muir Woods Redwoods

 

The tallest tree in Muir Woods 258 feet (79 meters) tall and an astonishing 1,200 years old.

There are 6 miles (10 km) of trails throughout Muir Woods National Monument, allowing visitors to choose from several different hiking routes. 

Muir Woods or Redwood National Forest?

Both the Muir Woods and the Redwood National Forest are beautiful national parks in the state of California.

The two are often confused as both feature old-growth coastal redwood trees (Sequoia sempervirens).

 

Muir Woods Tours

 

However, Muir Woods is much closer to San Francisco and receives a greater number of annual visitors. 

Redwood National Forest is more than 300 miles north of San Francisco, is much larger, and much less visited.

So, which should you choose to visit during your trip to California? It depends on how much time you have.

Redwoods National Forest 

It’s 300 miles (483 km) north of San Francisco, so best for those who have the time to dedicate a full day to travel to and from the forest.

It’s much larger and quieter, thus ideal for those truly looking for an escape. 

Muir Woods 

A beautiful forest that is just a 40-minute drive from San Francisco. Smaller than Redwoods National Forest, but features the same type of trees.

 


Back to top


 

HOW TO GET TO MUIR WOODS

Located just 12 miles north of San Francisco, the address for Muir Woods National Monument is 1 Muir Woods Rd, Mill Valley, CA 94941 (map).  

 

Where is Muir Woods

 

Muir Woods National Monument is open 365 days a year and does not require reservations (unless you are parking).

The forest opens every morning at 8 am and then closes between 5-8 pm depending on the time of year.

For the most up-to-date information, check the National Park Service website.

There is a $15 entrance fee to Muir Woods for those 16 and older. Under 16 years old are free. This fee is in addition to the optional reservation and parking fees below.


RESERVATIONS REQUIRED

Reservations are required for those driving their own vehicle and those taking the Muir Shuttle.

We have a detailed post on how to park at Muir Woods, but below is a summary.

Visitors arriving by foot, bicycle, or tour bus are not required to make a reservation.

Reservation fees (in addition to the park entrance cost):

  • A parking reservation fee is $8 per vehicle in addition to the park entrance fee.
  • Shuttle bus reservations cost $3 per person, age 16 or older. There is no reservation fee for those under 16, but you still must make a reservation for them.

When to make reservations:

Reservations can be made up to 90 days in advance on a rolling basis.

A limited number of reservations will be held back and released five (5) days in advance to provide access for visitors who were unable to plan their trip further in advance.  

Demand for parking and shuttle reservations will be high so reserving far in advance is recommended.  

How to make my reservation:

See the Go Muir Woods website or call 1-800-410-2419. 


DIFFERENT WAYS TO GET TO MUIR WOODS

Via Muir Woods Shuttle:

This is the most common way people get to Muir Woods without a car (outside of taking a guided tour from San Francisco).

This is a seasonal shuttle that services Muir Woods National Moment. 

The round-trip fare for adults is just $5 and free for guests aged 15 and under. (Be sure to make reservations. See above).

 

Muir Woods Shuttle

 

There are 3 different shuttle stop locations from which visitors can take the shuttle, none of which are in San Francisco proper.  

Most visitors to San Francisco will take the ferry to Sausalito, which costs $11.50 each way for passengers aged 5 to 64 (free otherwise). 

Read our post on how to take the Muir Woods shuttle.


Via Public Transportation (without Muir Woods Shuttle): 

As the Muir Woods Shuttle only operates seasonally, guests who hope to visit the forest via public transportation might find the trip to be rather long and confusing during the winter months.

The trip takes roughly 2 hours on public transportation from downtown San Francisco to Muir Woods National Monument. 

Click here to see precise routes and timetables. 


By Car: 

Visitors can also opt to drive to Muir Woods National Monument. It is only about a 40-minute drive, however, can take much longer if traveling during heavy traffic. 

You must make a reservation for parking. (See above).

If all spots are reserved for your chosen date, you may want to look into taking the Muir Woods Shuttle or even a guided tour with one of the companies suggested below.


Via Guided Tour:

Finally, guests can also visit the Muir Woods with a guided tour company that brings visitors directly into the heart of the park.

For more information about guided tours of the Muir Woods, please see the following section

Important: Pets, bicycles, smoking, horseback riding, and camping are not permitted within the park. Food is not permitted in the forest.

 


GUIDED TOURS OF MUIR WOODS

Each of the following companies offers tours to Muir Woods.

CitySightseeing, Gray Line, and Tower Tours lead combination tours that include tours of Sausalito, Sonoma, and/or San Francisco.

 

Muir Woods Tour City Sightseeing

 

Most tour companies spend between 1.5 to 2 hours in the forest.

As noted below, some companies (such as CitySightseeing and Gray Line) are more so transportation services rather than tours, as there is limited guided commentary off of the coach.

Prices range from $50 to over $100 per adult, depending on what other activities are combined with the trip to Muir Woods. 


City Sightseeing Tours

City Sightseeing Tours are classic hop-off-hop-on bus tours that take visitors to several different tourist destinations.

They offer several options that include Muir Woods, including the option to add-on a return ferry to San Francisco, for those who want to spend more time in Sausalito then is included in the tour. 

This outfit offers complimentary hotel pick-up. 

Tours to Muir Woods National Monument with City Sightseeing receive generally positive reviews, with many guests praising the ease of transportation.

Some guests found the tour pick-up/drop-off schedule to be somewhat restrictive, however, this is a common complaint among all organized tours to Muir Woods.

Overall, visitors who traveled with City Sightseeing found the experience very enjoyable and straightforward.

Muir Woods and Sausalito (with optional Ferry back to San Francisco)

  • Standard Ticket (without ferry): $79.99 Adults / $48.99 Children 
  • Departs daily at 9 am from San Francisco with multiple departures from Sausalito daily
  • Duration: 4-6 hours
  • More info and to book.

Muir Woods and Wine Country Tour

This is a 9-hour tour that combines some of Sonoma’s best wineries with a stop at Muir Woods. It operates daily at 9 am year-round.  

Be sure to read our post on Sonoma and Napa Valley wine tours.

This tour is included for free with the purchase of Smart Destinations’ All-Inclusive and Build-Your-Own tourist discount cards.

Read more about their hop-on-hop-off city, and Alcatraz tours


Dylan’s Tours

Dylan’s Tours offer intimate, guided bus tours of San Francisco and the surrounding area, including some trips that will take you to the Muir Woods.

Their main service is a combo tour which includes both Dylan’s Famous Tour and a trip to Muir Woods.

 

 

During their San Francisco tour, you’ll visit sites such as Haight-Ashbury, Pacific Heights, and North Beach.

In addition to those options, this company also offers combo packages which include bike rides, a trip to Alcatraz, and more.

Dylan’s Tours is perhaps most well known for its small group sizes and knowledgeable guides.

Their fleet of mini-buses allows for a more intimate experience than most of the other tour companies included on this list.

San Francisco, Muir Woods and Alcatraz Tour

San Francisco, Sausalito, and Muir Woods Tour

Golden Gate Bridge Bike Ride + Muir Woods Tour

A vast majority of guests give this tour company a full 5 out of 5 stars on TripAdvisor. Dylan’s Tours is reported to be very well organized and always on time.

Guides are also complimented for their impressive knowledge and likability. 

In fact, some guests liken the experience to a close friend driving them around for the day. Negative reviews are rare and usually the result of extenuating circumstances.


Gray Line Tours

There are 3 different tours to Muir Woods National Monument offered by Gray Line Tours:

  • (1) Muir Woods and Sausalito Tour
  • (2) San Francisco City Tour & Muir Woods
  • (3) Muir Woods, Sausalito, and Bay Cruise.  

As each of these tours to Muir Woods includes a visit to a second location, time is inevitably limited at each stop.

All tours include admission to Muir Woods and hotel pick-up/drop-off during the morning tour.


Reviews: 

The Gray Line Tour reviews are very positive, as many compliment the quality of the guides and the ease of transportation.

Some guests complain about the confusion regarding the hotel pick-up location, so be sure to check your confirmation email ahead of time. 


Muir Woods and Sausalito Tour 

This tour brings guests to Muir Woods for 75 minutes and then to Sausalito for another hour.

Guests can choose to extend their stay and pay for their own ferry ride back if they wish.  (4-hour tour).  

This ticket includes the $10 adult admission fee to the park, so as it stands, it’s a better value than City Sightseeing’s similar tour.

  • Without Ferry Ticket: $79 Adult | $49 Child (5-11) | Free for under 5
  • With Ferry Ticket: $92 Adult | $58 Child (5-11) | Free for under 5
  • Departs daily at various times (4-hour tour)
  • More info or to book

San Francisco City Tour & Muir Woods 

This tour spends a large majority of the tour in the city rather than in Muir Woods.

In some instances, guests who chose to depart in the late afternoon were not able to visit the Muir Woods because of its early seasonal closure.  

  • $101.94 – Adult | $57.90 Child (5-11) | Free for under 5
  • Departs daily at 9 am
  • Duration: 8 hours
  • More info or to book

Muir Woods, Sausalito and Bay Cruise

Finally, guests may take the Muir Woods, Sausalito, and Bay Cruise, which allows visitors to enjoy three sceneries: the woods, the water, and the quaint city of Sausalito.

  • $105 Adult | $68 Child (5-11) | Free for under 5
  • Departs daily at various times (5.5-hour tour)
  • More info or to book

 


Tower Tours

In addition to their many other tours, Tower Tours also offers a tour of Muir Woods, which departs 3x daily and can be combined with other attractions:

  • (1) Muir Woods Tour
  • (2) Muir Woods Tour + Sausalito Ferry
  • (3) Muir Woods Tours + Aquarium of the Bay
  • (4) and Muir Woods Tour + Golden Gate Bay Cruise.  

Like the CitySightseeing tour to Muir Woods, this tour is more of a transportation service than a guided tour.

Guests are allowed “up to 1.5 hours” in the forest, though traffic may affect the allotted time.  

They too offer complimentary hotel pick up from most hotels.


Reviews: 

The Muir Woods Tour by Tower Tours is a highly rated tour with excellent reviews.

Though this company maintains a 4-star rating on TripAdvisor, most of the reviews for their Muir Woods Tour are 5 stars. 

Muir Woods Tour

  • $85 – Adults | $55 – Child
  • Departs daily at 9 am, 11 am, and 2 pm
  • Duration: 3.5 hours
  • More info and to book.

Muir Woods Tour + Sausalito Ferry  

  • $97 – Adults | $95 – Seniors | $67 – Child
  • Departs daily at 9 am, 11 am, and 2 pm
  • More info and to book.

 Muir Woods Tours + Aquarium of the Bay

  • $110 – Adults | $108 – Seniors | $70 – Child
  • Departs daily at 9 am, 11 am, and 2 pm
  • Duration: 5 hours
  • More info and to book.

Muir Woods Tour + Golden Gate Bay Cruise

  • $115 – Adults | $113 – Seniors | $80 – Child
  • Departs daily at 9 am, 11 am, and 2 pm
  • Duration: 5 hours
  • More info and to book.

 


Extranomical Tours

Extranomical has perhaps the largest selection of tours of any bus company in the Bay Area.

They offer several trips to Muir Woods, most of which are combined with other tourist destinations such as Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley, and Sausalito.

Guests are allowed up to 2 hours to explore Muir Woods on their own, during which time they can also buy lunch or hike a particular trail.

Their tours include free pick-up and drop-off at almost any hotel in San Francisco, making the door to door service very convenient. 

Reviews: With a 4 ½ star rating on TripAdvisor and a 4-star rating on Yelp, it’s safe to say that most guests of Extranomical Tours have a great time. 

Most of the negative reviews seem to be centered around scheduling conflicts, but sometimes it’s impossible to foresee issues such as these.

If the only issues with this service are a few random, unforeseen problems with their schedule, that’s a pretty good sign.

Almost every other similar service has received complaints about the bus either being late or broken, so it’s worth noting that Extranomical does not appear to have these problems.

Muir Woods Expedition 

Muir Woods, Sausalito, & San Francisco Ferry 

  • $92 – Adult | $87 – Child (11 and under) 
  • 7 hours
  • Departing daily @1:45 pm.
  • More info and to book.

Muir Woods and Wine Country (Sonoma and Napa Valley) 

  • $185 – Adult | $129 – Child (10 and under)
  • Visit Muir Woods and 3 wineries. 
  • 9 hours
  • Departing daily @7 am and @8 am.
  • More info to book.

Muir Woods, Sausalito, and Alcatraz

  • $155 – Adult | $134 – Child (10 and under)
  • 7 hours
  • Departing daily @ 8 am. 
  • More info to book.

 


Tom Martell’s Famous Muir Woods Tours

Tom Martell’s Famous Muir Woods Tours is a small company owned and run by Tom Martell, a naturist and experienced Muir Woods guide.

Tom’s tours are fully escorted and aim to inform guests about the flora and fauna of the area, the Redwoods themselves, Indian customs, park and local history, and folklore.

Tom promises that he is “here to give you a glimpse into the life of the forest, not to steer you to the gift shop or hurry you along.”

The tour covers 2-4 miles, includes water, snacks, and fruit juice, as well as complimentary pick-up at your San Francisco hotel and drop-off at the Sausalito Ferry.

NOTE: Tom is currently running tours on a very limited basis

More information.

 


SELF-GUIDED TOURS OF MUIR WOODS

Guests who prefer to hike around Muir Woods on their own or who choose not to use a tour company to travel there can follow several different self-guided walks around the park.

Each ranges immensely in terms of distance and time/difficulty level. 

View the Most Popular Muir Woods Day Hikes and the NPS Map of Muir Woods to plan your visit. 

 


Back to top


 

COMBO PASSES / DISCOUNTS

Smart Destinations 

Smart Destinations sells 2 different discount passes that feature visits to Muir Woods:

The Build Your Own Pass allows guests to choose from 32 different attractions when putting together a pass that will allow them discounted entry at the selected places.

The All-Inclusive Pass is valid for a 7 day period during which guests are allowed to visit all attractions included on their list. The latter option is more expensive but does give guests access to many more sites.  

 

 


Groupon, Living Social, and GoldStar 

Additionally, there are several other discount websites such as LivingSocial, that periodically offer discounted tours to Muir Woods.

These companies update their deals on a regular basis, so be sure to check each website to learn more about what special discounts are on offer. 

Wine Tours and Other Day Trips from San Francisco

 

About the author

Manager | San Francisco

Britt is a San Francisco Bay Area native, and has spent 25 years in this magical city. He has traveled to over 30 countries, and has never found a place he loves as much as this one! If you come to San Francisco, you might join one of Britt's tours of the city.

A graduate of the University of Maryland and University of Southern California, he has been leading tours for Free Tours by Foot since 2015.