Muir Woods. (Courtesy of City Sightseeing SF)

Please RSVP: Muir Woods visits now to be reservation-only

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So long, days of lackadaisical micro-adventuring into our beloved Muir Woods, where a casual stroll felt like a weekend away.

On Tuesday, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) announced a new parking and shuttle reservation system is now in effect for Muir Woods; that means even local day hikers will now have to—gulp—plan ahead if they wish to arrive at the park via car or shuttle to wander amongst those mighty redwoods.


The GGNRA hopes the move will both help solve the all-too-familiar problem of circling to find parking, allowing visitors to spend more time frolicking in the woods, and protect Muir's main draw, those precious old trees. Along with the growing influx of outdoor enthusiasts—Muir received 1.1 million people in 2016, a 30 percent increase over the previous year—there have been a some cases of national park no-nos such as illegal parking and foot traffic along sketchy narrow roads. The new plan will reduce overcrowding while protecting and preserving the park's natural resources.

Campers will be plenty used to the reservation system: You can call ahead or go online up to 90 days in advance to reserve your parking spot or seat on the shuttle, which will be available every weekend and during peak visitation times throughout the year. For spur-of-the moment planners, there will be a limited number of spots released just five days in advance.

Reservations do provide you with a timed arrival, but there are no restrictions on the length of your stay. Whether you plan to drive ($8 per car) or catch a ride on the shuttle ($3 per adult), just remember to download or print your parking or shuttle ressie in advance as there's no WiFi or cell service in the area. Visitors 16 and older will also need to pay an additional $10 park admission fee; kiddos under 16 get in for free, but still require an RSVP to ride on the shuttle. Note also that that parking reservations will increase 50-cents every two years, while shuttle rates will increase 25-cents.

You can catch the shuttle at the Pohono Street Park and Ride Lot, Sausalito Ferry Terminal, and Marin City Hub on weekends, holidays, and through the summer; it runs as frequently as every 10 minutes, depending on the time of year. For drivers, there will be approximately 232 parking spaces within Muir Woods, and anywhere between 500 to 925 parking reservations available each day.

Demand will very likely be high, so be sure to book as far in advance as possible (boo). Or, get your fix now—there are plenty of spots available for this weekend—before the reservations thing takes off.

// Advance and day-of reservations (dependent on availability) can be made at gomuirwoods.com or 800-410-2419.

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