Nature and Conservation. Places of importance in John Muir's life.
Choose Your Experience at 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 - Park Film and Bookstore
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.
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.
Hiking and Exploring Mt. Wanda
Experience: Recreational, Natural, Historical.
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. The initial hike to the upper trails of Mount Wanda is an average grade of 13% for about 1 mile. 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 from start to finish 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!).
We are always thinking of new ways to educate and spark the imagination.
Throughout the year, the John Muir National Historic site offers various programs outside of our regularly scheduled programs. There are a variety of seasonal wildflower walks, campfire programs, bird walks and full moon walks that are available on Mt. Wanda...and more!
Check the "Calendar" section on our website for current seasonal tour information, or call the park for more information at: (925) 228-8860, then follow the prompts to reach the John Muir NHS front desk.
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.
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.
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.
The gravesite where John Muir is buried along with family members is open to pedestrians and cyclists 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 for tours are required due to limited seating for transportation. Call 925-228-8860 and then follow the prompts to reach the John Muir NHS front desk.
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.
Alert: The Martinez Adobe is currently closed to the public for safety reasons. The indoor exhibit is not available. Guests may view the home from the outside, but the area around the building is roped off due to ongoing structural integrity issues. There is no projected reopening at this time.
Become a Junior Ranger
Hey Kids! If you'd like to become a Junior Ranger at the John Muir National Historic Site, all you have to do is ask for an activity book in the John Muir NHS Visitor Center. A ranger or your parents can help you with some of the activities and a ranger will need to sign your book once you are finished. If you complete the book, you will receive your own Junior Ranger Badge! Activities in the book will help you to learn more about why John Muir was important to our National Parks and with helping to encourage people to protect our beautiful land!
Enjoy a picnic atop Mt. Wanda or beneath the shade of redwood and pecan trees in John Muir's historic orchards.
Helping to keep your park clean and safe, means packing up all your leftover supplies and trash and taking them with you. Please reach out to park staff if you have any questions about ideal locations for a picnic.