John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez, California, is not a large national park unit, but an important one for those of us who share Muir’s passion for nature. It reminds us of how instrumental he was in the creation of our national parks and federal wildlife reserves. His vision provided so much inspiration, especially in a time when many people saw the richness of the environment as something to be exploited, not preserved.
About John Muir National Historic Site
John Muir National Historic Site includes the Muir family home and surrounding orchards, inherited from his wife’s family. There is a self-guided tour of the historic 10,000 square foot 3 story farm house. Not much of the furniture is original, but it is typical of the period and the beautiful house has been well restored.
A highlight is Muir’s office where he wrote his most important articles and books.
We thought it was fun to see the small upstairs balcony where Muir and his wife used to set up a tent so they could sleep outside. It is a great example of how much he loved the outdoors. Another interesting part of the house is the attic. It was huge – hard to believe it was mainly used for storage. It was also fun to go up into the bell tower. How many houses have that?
We hadn’t really thought of Muir as being wealthy, but he was. He took over the fruit farm from his father in law and was so successful that they said for him money literally “grew on trees”. There is still a small orchard on the property, and in season you can sample the fruit.
John Muir’s Legacy
After 5 years of farming, his wealth allowed him focus on his writings and advocacy of preserving the wilderness. He was able to travel all over the west and as far north as Alaska. Much of his time was spent promoting the concept of conservation, especially working to convince Teddy Roosevelt to protect Yosemite. His hard work eventually led to the establishment of Yosemite National Park as well as many others, including the Grand Canyon, Sequoia/Kings Canyon and Muir Woods National Monument.
He also helped found the Sierra Club and was elected its first president. No wonder he has been called the father of conservation.
Visiting John Muir National Historic Site
There is a small visitor center, with some great photos and samples of Muir’s writings. You can visit the house and grounds, and optionally take a hike up Mount Wanda. Plan at least an hour and be sure to take time to reflect on how one person’s passion can really make a difference. Without visionaries like John Muir, many of our nation’s treasures would have been forever lost. Maybe this will be your inspiration to become more involved.
Other National Park Units Nearby
While you are in the area, plan to visit the other national park units nearby – Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site, Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park and Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial. You can take a shuttle from the parking lot at John Muir house to Port Chicago Naval Magazine (reservations required).
Need Help Planning Your Visits?
If you would like to explore this or other National Park Units, but need a bit help in the planning, please give us a call at (480) 609-3978. We are happy to offer customized trip planning.