Things To Do

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some answers to commonly asked questions.

History and Culture

History and Culture

History and Culture information

John Muir's influence

John Muir's influence

Nature and Conservation. Places of importance in John Muir's life.

 

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Exploring the Park

The John Muir National Historic Site has something for everyone. Learn the fascinating history behind the man known as "The Father of the National Park Service". Enjoy the beautiful grounds and orchards, the historic Victorian house of the Strenzel/Muir families, over 360-acres of trails on Mt. Wanda, and the Strentzel/Muir Gravesite. While you may choose to freely explore on your own, here is our recommendation for your visit:

Visitor Center

Start your visit, here. There is a 20-minute park film which chronicles the life of Muir and his connection to this site. We encourage you to then take the audio tour of the grounds after you have watched the park film. There are currently 12 audio stops throughout the main grounds, listed in numerical order. During your audio tour, you will stop at the Strenzel/Muir historic home, but there are currently no audio stops inside the home. Tours of the Strentzel-Muir house are self-guided. A ranger or docent will be in the house to answer your questions. Once you exit the house, follow the signs to continue your audio tour of the grounds.

How Do I Use the Audio Tour?
What If I Want to Visit the Strentzel/Muir Gravesite?
What if I Have a Large Group or Want to Reserve a Classroom Visit?
What if I have Accessibilty Needs?

 
The two store Muir house sits amongst the trees. sidewalk leads to porch steps.
The Strentzel/Muir house at the John Muir National Historic Site.

Luther Bailey, NPS.

Strentzel/Muir Home

Visit the Strentzel/Muir home that was built in 1882 by Dr. John Strentzel, John Muir's father-in-law. When Dr.Strentzel died in 1890, Mrs. Strentzel invited the Muirs to move into the "big house" with her. This was to be John Muir's home for the last 24 years of his life.

The home is a 17-room wood frame mansion of the late Victorian period (Italianate style) built on a knoll with a commanding view of Alhambra Valley. It is a two story structure with a full basement and attic, a cupola on the peak of the roof, 12-foot high ceilings in the rooms, and over 10,000 square feet of floor space. The house was designed by architects Wolfe and Son of San Francisco and built by contractors Sylvester and Langabee of the same city.

Tips For Exploring the Strenzel/Muir House
1. The house is a short walk from the visitor center, but up a small hill. Staff can provide a cart ride if you need assitance.
2. Please don't take opened food or drink into the house.
3. For safety and preservation reasons, please refrain from touching historic items or moving beyond bariers.
4. Photos are allowed but please always be mindful of other guests.
5. Feel free to ask questions of the staff who usually are situated at the inside entrance.

 
A trail winds through hills lined with grass. Trees are in the background.
Mt. Wanda Trail.

Luther Bailey, NPS.

Mount Wanda Hiking and Exploring

Just looking for a nice hike or saunter along a beautiful nature trail?

Named after his eldest daughter, Mt. Wanda is 326 acres of oak woods and grasslands. The Muir family never used it for fruit production, but as an escape for the daughters to take nature walks with “Papa”.

Explore the hills where John Muir hiked with his two daughters, Wanda and Helen. Mount Wanda is open daily sunrise to sunset. Please come prepared, as no water or toilet facilities are available. Pets are permitted on a leash. Bicycles and horses are allowed on fire roads only. To access Mt. Wanda, travel ¼ mile south from the visitor center on Alhambra Avenue to the trail head parking lot next to Franklin Canyon Road.

What do I need to know?

Mt. Wanda is not really a mountain, but a set of hills. While it is generally not a streneous hike, there is a lengthy incline at the beginning of the trail. There are a few path options as you get to the upper area, which you can see on the entrance kiosk sign. A nice hike can last around 1-2.5 hours and make you feel like you've had a good workout. However, many folks enjoy a nice, relaxed saunter, if that is your speed.

The trail entrance is not at the main park grounds but about a block down the street. Please check out our map section for directions. Due to traffic and safety, you should not attempt to walk to the trail entrance from the park visitor center.


Tips for Hiking on Mt. Wanda
1. Take bottled water with you on your hike.
2. Do not leave any trash behind.
3. There are no restrooms on the trails, so go before you hike.
4. Wear Sunscreen.
5. Keep pets on a leash!
6. Take you cell phone for emergencies (and maybe a few good photos!).

 
Photos of three phones displaying the NPS app.

Cell Phone Tour of Grounds

There are two ways that you can experience the self-guided audio tour of the grounds:

NPS App Tour Details: You can download the free official NPS App and take the audio tour from there, without calling a number. You should use the regular cell phone "Stop" signs around the grounds (that contain the dial-in number for OnCell) as a guide. Once you've accessed the app, look for our park and then select the "Self-Guided Tours" tab to see the audio tours. Guests can begin the audio tour, as well as navigate through each stop, in the app. Currently, there are no cell stops inside the Muir home, but rangers or volunteers can answer any questions you have. The first stop is located right behind the visitor center.

OnCell Audio Tour Details: OnCell is a free dial-in number. You will see the phone number on the designated "Stop" signs throughout the grounds. The first stop is located right behind the visitor center.

Quick Guide:

There are two options to take the self-guided audio tour:

1. NPS App: Download the free app from one of the links, below, and experience the tour by first searching for our park name, then when found, look in the "Self-Guided Tours" tab. Guests will see a prompt to start the audio tour when they are ready. This app allows you to pause and restart during the tour.
-OR-
2. OnCell call-in number: Guests may also choose to call the phone number on the "Stop" signs around the grounds. The tour is free, other than regular carrier rates that you may have. The call-in number does not have a pause feature on individual stops.

Tips
1.
Portable headphones or earbuds are great to bring for the audio tour but not necessary.
2. Pre-download the NPS app before you arrive.
3. The first "Stop" begins behind the visitor center.
4. We are adding new audio tours over time. Check back often.

Download from the app store or your choice:
Download NPS App: Apple Store Link
Download NPS App: Google Play

 

The Strentzel/Muir Family Gravesite Tour

The gravesite where John Muir is buried along with family members is open to the public and is self-guided Monday through Friday from 10:30am to 4:30 pm. Ranger led tours of the site are available on Saturday and Sunday when staff is available. Reservations are required due to limited seating for transportation. Call 925-228-8860 extension 0 for reservations.

Note: There is uneven ground at the site, and no amenities, so please wear comfortable shoes and bring water. Conditions can get muddy and heavy rain will cancel the tour.

 
The two story adobe home sits amongst the grass and trees. A bench can be seen in the foreground.
The Martinez Adobe at the John Muir National Historic Site.

Luther Bailey, NPS.

Martinez Adobe

The Martinez Adobe, located on the western edge of John Muir's historic orchards, features bilingual exhibits for the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail. Come learn the story of the Anza Expedition, when Spanish Lt. Colonel Juan Bautista de Anza led 240 men, women and children up the California coast in 1775. For more information, vist the Juan Buatista de Anza website.

Note: The Martinez Adobe is currently closed to the public. Guests may view the home from the outside but due to ongoing maintenance, the indoor exhibit is not available.

 

Picnicking

Enjoy a picnic atop Mount Wanda or beneath the shade of redwood and pecan trees in John Muir's historic orchards. It is required for all groups to take any supplies or trash with them when they leave.

 

Seasonal Programs

Seasonal wildflower walks, campfire programs, bird walks and full moon walks are available on Mt. Wanda. Check the "Calendar" section on our website for current seasonal tour information, or call the park for more information at: (925) 228-8860 x0.

 

Become a Junior Ranger

Children of all ages - and children at heart - can obtain a Junior Ranger activity booklet from the front desk. Complete the booklet to earn your official Junior Ranger badge!

Last updated: December 6, 2022

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

4202 Alhambra Ave
Martinez , CA 94553

Phone:

925 228-8860

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