Big Basin is California’s oldest State Park established in 1902. Created to preserve these extraordinary ancient coast redwoods.
It’s a popular State Park close to San Francisco, but less busy than Muir Woods. Somehow crowded at weekends and popular for camping under the astonishing trees. It’s a park you should not miss. During winter it gets wet and trails are slippery and muddy. Nevertheless, hikes can be done all year but ask for trail conditions first.
The wet season starts in November and lasts until February with most precipitation in January. It receives three times the rainfall of the Bay Area. This rain is much needed by the redwoods after the dry summer. The average night temp is around 41°F / 5°C and day temp under 60°F / 15°C.
Summer from June to September is mostly dry with dense summer fog in the morning. The mist provides the trees with moisture. Nights temps are much cooler than in the Bay Area with around 49°F / 9°C and day temps about 74°F / 23°C. Anyhow, in the hot summer months, it can reach up to 86°F /30°C and more.
Where to Stay
You can either camp for $ 35-50 which includes the State Park fee of $ 10 under the ancient redwood trees or choose the charming The Inn at Saratoga ideally situated. Included is a cold buffet breakfast.
Muir Woods National Monument is a must-visit destination if you are in the area. It’s a 30-minute drive from San Francisco.
Muir Woods is situated close to San Francisco therefore pretty popular. One well-maintained boardwalk and paved trail are leading through the park. The path is suitable for the entire family with pushchair and wheelchair as well. The magical times to be there are early morning and late in the day to avoid the crowds and to enjoy the unique atmosphere. The light filtering down into the valley through the enormous trees is utterly delightful.
It’s a magical place, but it’s also heavily crowded. Due to the close location of the urban area, only 12 miles from the Golden Gate Bridge the park is overrun from spring to fall. First of all, avoid weekends and go mid-week if possible. Rainy, foggy or cold days are less crowded as well. To avoid the crowds during the day get there very early. The park is open from 8 a.m. until sunset. Be there at about 7:30. The visitor center opens at 9 a.m. You could also park on Muir Woods Road in the early morning. If you go in summer, we recommend taking the Muir Woods Shuttle. Quote from a Park Ranger: "It takes away all the worries and headaches of driving and parking." Shuttle information
In September and October, many school classes visit the National Monument. Winter is less busy but consider it’s the wet season with most of the annual 40 inches / 1016 mm of precipitation.
Best Accommodations Close to Muir Woods
There are some hotels and lodges around to explore the Bay Area. It's quieter to stay here than in San Francisco, and it doesn't take long to reach the Golden Gate Bridge. Our first choice is the charming boutique hotel Mill Valley Inn. It is just a 3 miles drive to Muir Woods and 5 minutes walk to shops ansd restaurants. What we loved most there are already redwoods in their garden.
Humboldt Redwoods State Park is a mystic place with the world's most majestic ancient redwoods. The trees are thousands of years old and have never been logged.
The park is open year-round and activities are available every season. The Humboldt Redwood State Park is busier during summer. Sweet spot months regarding the weather and the crowds are April, May, September and the beginning of October. Continue reading to get more detailed information for this ancient trees and get the most out of your visit.
Oceanic influences ensure fairly stable and mild year-round temperatures. The park receives an average of 60 - 80 inches of rain each year with the majority of rainfall from late October through April. From mid-May until September it's usually dry and mild. But still, be prepared for sudden rain and bring the right gear. Sturdy walking shoes or hiking boots with non-slip soles are a must since the moist rainforest can be slippery. Even in summer, dress in layers or bring an extra jacket: Expect a maximum of 30 degree temperature difference between the north end of the park, close to the ocean, and the southern end of the park, only 30 miles away. Winters are slightly cooler with the mentioned rainfall. Temperatures: Summer: Highs in the 70s to 90s, lows in the 50s. Winter: Highs in the 50s to 60s, lows in the 20s to 30s.
It's never heavily crowded like Muir Woods or other parks. However, July and August are the months with the highest visitation. For a quieter experience, avoid weekends and arrive early if you visit during those peak times. Sweet spot months with fewer visitors usually mild and dry climate are April, May, September (after Labor Day), and early October.