Muir Woods National Monument covers five hundred acres of land and is located only twelve miles north of San Francisco, California. The monument was designated to protect and preserve redwood forests of trees that have been a part of the coastal landscape for centuries. Redwood trees are a natural occurrence along the western coast of the United States and centuries ago millions of acres of forests that were rich in redwoods grew undisturbed. It wasn't until the 20th century that deforestation started and the redwoods begin to get cutdown. The reason the Muir Woods was left undisturbed was due to their relative inaccessibility. The forest was saved by a congressman, William Kent, who purchased the monument site and then donated the area to the federal government in a last ditch effort to save and protect the ancient trees.
The forest is shrouded in coastal fogs on a regular basis because of its proximity to the Pacific Ocean. The thick fog that invades the forest keeps the humidity high at the monument site, providing moisture and encouraging thick growths of vegetation. The forest grounds are coated with lush patches of flora and other exotic plant species can be found among the trees. The redwoods themselves draw moisture from the environment in order to sustain them throughout the dryer months. Redwoods can grow up to 380 feet tall, and the tallest measured tree in the Muir Woods National Monument is at a height of 258 feet. The average temperature at Muir Woods National Monument ranges between 40 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Muir Woods National Monument is operated by the National Park Service as well as the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The monument holds events throughout the year to draw more tourists to the area. An annual footrace is one such event that passes through Muir Woods.
Each year almost a million visitors attend Muir Woods National Monument. It is a major tourist destination in the San Francisco Bay area. Every year, attendance increases as more of the public is made aware of the undisturbed, natural beauty that composes the monument. The trees range in age and are an average of 650 years old. One of the oldest trees in the Muir Woods is at least 1,200 years old.
Some of the other trees at Muir Woods National Monument that attracts crowds are the Tanoak, Bigleaf Maple, and California Bay Laurel tree. There is a complex ecosystem in the forests that allows each tree to thrive naturally. Animals are plentiful in the area as well. The forest is home to deers, bears, bats, and over fifty different species of birds. Paved and unpaved hiking trails are available to visitors who are interested in seeing the trees up close, bird watching, or simply exploring the forest area. Ranger walks are also available. Visitors to Muir Woods National Monument are only allowed to hike - camping and picnicking are not allowed in the area. A Visitors Center is located on the monument grounds and contains exhibits and a gift shop. An entrance fee of $5 is required to enter the park - children are admitted into the monument for free.
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