Muir Woods’ redwood groves to close, Alcatraz Island limits tours during shutdown

Muir Woods National Monument in Mill Valley, Calif., is the latest park to close because of the partial government shutdown. It will suspend services Monday.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Muir Woods National Monument in Northern California will close Monday and Alcatraz Island limited to day tours because of the partial government shutdown that began Dec. 22.

Muir Woods, a pocket of old-growth redwoods in Mill Valley that draws about a million visitors a year, will stay open this weekend. Starting Monday, visitors who booked parking or shuttle reservations to tour the site will receive automatic refunds, a news release said Friday.

Parking, bathrooms and visitor services also will be suspended Monday when the site closes.


Tours of Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay continue because the park has an agreement with Alcatraz Cruises to provide transportation and tours. However, visitors will be limited to day tours only; Night Tours and Behind the Scenes tours have been canceled for the duration of the shutdown. Anyone holding tickets to the canceled tours will receive a refund.

More shutdown fallout: Investigation of Yosemite death delayed, while Death Valley closes campgrounds »

Muir Woods and Alcatraz Island are part of the greater Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which includes urban and coastal sites that received almost 15 million visitors in 2017. Parts of the parkland remain open — Ocean Beach, Lands End and Marin Headlands, except for Point Bonita Lighthouse, Nike Missile Site and Visitor Center — but lack bathroom and trash services.

Crissy Field, also part of the recreation area, remains open with garbage and restroom services provided under an agreement with a private land trust. The former airstrip turned parkland sits within the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge.

National parks remain open to visitors without charging entry fees. However, unchecked tourism has been taking its toll on places such as Yosemite, where areas have closed because of human waste and trash on roadsides. Joshua Tree National Park closed its campgrounds to overnight stays Wednesday because its bathrooms were at capacity.

Also, Death Valley National Park shut campgrounds Friday as well as access roads to Natural Bridge, Dante’s View and Keane Wonder Mine. The road to Salt Creek is also closed. Major parts of Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks in the western Sierra also are closed.


National parks can be dangerous places when rangers and staff are furloughed. On New Year’s Eve, a man who broke his leg while hiking at Big Bend National Park in Texas had to be rescued by strangers and a sole ranger.