Location: 4202 Alhambra Avenue, Martinez, California
Designation: National Historic Site
Date NPS designation declared: 8/31/1964
Date of my visit: Sept 2017
The John Muir NHS is must visit for fans of the National Park Service, since John Muir was considered the father of the NPS. He was a naturalist and writer who inspired the creation of the National Park Service and was the first president of the Sierra Club. He was responsible for the preservation of Yosemite and several of our other natural treasures as National Parks.
We visited the site during an awful heat wave in the Bay Area ( I think it was 108F that day!) We were grateful for the air conditioning in the visitors center and thoroughly enjoyed the 20 minute film about John Muir’s remarkable life.
After we’d watched the film we trudged uphill (the hill seemed almost vertical, but then it was seriously HOT) to take a ranger-led tour of the historic home. The NPS website says tours are only of the ground floor, but our ranger, a self-professed John Muir groupie, did take us to some of the rooms upstairs. The home has been beautifully restored and maintained by the NPS and the ranger was full of anecdotes and factoids that made history come alive for all in our group.
There are other things to do on this site…we were told we could pick fruit in the orchards, take a cell phone tour of the grounds and climb Mount Wanda…but again…HOT. With a disabled family member along for the tour, we had to save this for another day.
In spite of the unpleasant weather, we loved visiting John Muir NHS. If you are in the bay area, it’s definitely worth the side trip to this off-the-beaten-path gem. There are also a few other lesser known NPS units out this way, like Rosie the Riveter, which I will review separately.