Muir Woods National Monument - California 2017
It was a chilly January the first time we visited California. We'd never been before and an adventure seemed to be the best way to kick off 2016. So we packed our bags and got up way too early to fly half way across the country to see San Francisco for ourselves. We rode streetcars and buses, took a tour out to Alcatraz, and eventually rented a car and headed north to see Muir Woods National Monument.
It was our first stop on a drive up the coast, pausing at Navarro Point, and ending up at a glass beach near Fort Bragg. The whole drive was beautiful but when we got home it was Muir Woods that we talked about the most.
It's magical. The silence and giant trees and the sounds of rain hitting leaves and touching your face. We wandered down the boardwalks when you first enter the monument, holding hands as we passed beneath the sign, and had the whole place to ourselves. It was the middle of the week on a rainy day in January and absolutely perfect. We spent a few hours there, got off the boardwalk and hiked into the trees, and the whole time maybe saw five people.
Our experience in July of 2017 was much different. At that point I'd never been to a national park and dealt with such a crowd. A few days later though we waited about forty-five minutes to get into Yosemite and I realized that crowded seemed to be a way of life for California parks in the summer.
When we got home I imported all my photos from the trip (at least five cards worth) and I realized I hadn't taken that many in Muir Woods. And after I'd gone through and narrowed them down to the ones I wanted to keep I had even less. At one point we were surrounded by teenagers blaring music from their phones as they passed us, another group behind them yelling to be heard. It had been too crowded, too many people wandering past my camera, too many people in a space I'd remembered as quiet and peaceful.
Later I found out that Muir Woods National Monument would require reservations to visit starting in January 2018. That's perfect. Go, visit, stand under the trees and feel the cool green surroundings. But make a reservation and hopefully it'll be more peaceful than our last visit.