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Mount Tamalpais State Park
Driving Directions to Mount Tamalpais State Park
Camping and Lodging
Online reservations are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Reservations can be made 7 months in advance on the first day of the month beginning at 8:00 a.m. PST via the website, by mail, or by calling the toll free telephone number at 1-800-444-7275. Due to seasonal volume, access to the ReserveAmerica website and the telephone line may at times be limited.Online Reservations
Brochures and Campground Maps
Upcoming Park Events
No events scheduled at this moment.
“Just makin up poems in my head as I climb toward Mount Tamalpais. See up there, as beautiful a mountain as you’ll see anywhere in the world, a beautiful shape to it, I really love Tamalpais.”
– The Dharma Bums, by Jack Kerouac
Just north of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, Mount Tamalpais State Park rises majestically from the heart of Marin County. Its deep canyons and sweeping hillsides are cloaked with cool redwood forests, oak woodlands, open grasslands, and sturdy chaparral.
The breathtaking panorama from Mount Tamalpais’s 2,571-foot peak includes the Farallon Islands 25 miles out to sea, the Marin County hills, San Francisco Bay, the East Bay, and Mount Diablo. On rare occasions, the snow-covered Sierra Nevada can be seen 150 miles away.
The park offers superlative hiking, picnicking, wildlife watching, and mountain and road bicycling.
Up top, a visitor center provides information, snacks, and souvenirs, and a “gravity car barn” celebrates the old Mount Tamalpais Scenic Railway. Down below, the 3,750-person capacity Mountain Theater hosts outdoor plays and astronomy programs. Visitors may camp in several locations or stay in rustic view cabins at Steep Ravine and (on private property) at West Point Inn.
Arrive early to avoid heavy weekend and holiday traffic. Better yet, take the West Marin Stage Coach.
Some of the park’s wheelchair-accessible features include:
• The accessible 0.75-mile-long Verna Dunshee Trail at East Peak has fantastic views. Accessible tables, restrooms and drinking fountains are nearby.
• Spectacular vistas may also be seen from an accessible 0.4-mile portion of the Old Mine Trail from Pantoll Station and 0.25 miles of the McKennan Trail.
• Pantoll and Bootjack each have accessible camping, restrooms and parking.
• Cabin #1 and environmental campsite #7 at Steep Ravine are accessible.
• The Mountain Theater has a wheelchair platform on the right side of the theater. The Mountain Play Association offers signed performances and descriptive services during the first three play performances each season. For more information, call the Mountain Play Association at 415-383-1100.
Visitors with disabilities who need assistance should contact the Pantoll Ranger Station well before their trip at 415-388-2070.
Spring and summer temperatures are warm, with average highs in the 70s and 80s. Fall and winter can be cool, with temperatures in the 50s. Fog is common.
• The park is open from 7 a.m. to sunset.
• There’s no entrance fee, but some trailheads have parking fees.
• All natural and cultural park resources are protected by law and must not be disturbed or removed.
• Camping and fires are permitted only in designated areas.
• Except for service animals, leashed dogs are allowed only on paved roads in developed areas, family campgrounds, and picnic areas.
• Dogs must be confined to a vehicle or tent at night. Horses and bicycles are allowed only on fire roads and posted hiking trails.
• Be alert for poison oak, rattlesnakes, mountain lions, and ticks.
Things to Do
Mount Tamalpais State Park offers more than 60 miles of hiking trails, connecting to a 200-mile trail system on neighboring public lands. Road bikers are challenged by the twisting road to the summit and the infamous Seven Sisters climb. Mountain bikers enjoy the panoramic Coast View and Dias Ridge multi-use trails as well as park fire roads. Picnickers flock to tables at Bootjack and East Peak (the summit).
There’s natural splendor in any season, but Tam’s many creeks and waterfalls are most spectacular during the rainy months, usually late October through March. The best time for wildflowers is February through May. Plays at the Mountain Theater run on weekends in May and June. Whale-watching season runs November through April.
For guided hikes, astronomy programs, and volunteer opportunities, go to the Friends of Mt. Tam website. For a region-wide map and links to additional hiking information, try One Tam.
If you have an hour, drive across the park on the Panoramic Highway, starting north of Mill Valley and ending at Stinson Beach.
If you have half a day, drive to the summit at East Peak. Enjoy 360-degree views of the Bay Area from what Via magazine called “the crown jewel of Mount Tam,” the paved 0.75-mile-long Verna Dunshee Trail. It’s a great place for a picnic, too.
If you have a full day, walk 1.5 miles downhill through a redwood forest on the Steep Ravine Trail. Then take the Dipsea Trail another 1.5 miles to Stinson Beach, admiring ocean views and seasonal wildflowers along the way. Lunch at Stinson and walk back up to Pantoll on the Dipsea Trail for a total of 6 miles. Or, if the West Marin Stagecoach schedule allows, take the bus to Pantoll.
The volunteer-led Mount Tam astronomy program holds evening programs every Saturday between the new and first-quarter moon from April through October. Programs include a talk and tour of the night sky at the Mountain Theater, followed by star-gazing through telescopes at nearby Rock Spring. Hosted by Friends of Mt. Tam and the San Francisco Amateur Astronomers, the events are family friendly.
For more information, go to the Friends of Mt. Tam astronomy schedule.
Stinson Beach lies just outside the park’s western boundary in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. You can hike there from Pantoll on the Steep Ravine or Matt Davis trails, ride on the West Marin Stagecoach, or drive on the Panoramic Highway. Park staff recommend swimming only in late May through mid-September, when a lifeguard is on duty.
National Park Service–Golden Gate National Recreation Area
The sport of mountain biking was invented on Mount Tamalpais in the 1970s and ‘80s. Today’s enthusiasts can enjoy the Coast View and Dias Ridge multi-use trails as well as park fire trails. Cyclists are not allowed on other single-track trails.
Road bicyclists who are up for a challenge can try the Seven Sisters ride, which heads north from Stinson Beach to the Bolinas-Fairfax Road and includes a long stretch of super-scenic West Ridgecrest Boulevard. The twisting paved road to East Peak summit also provides a good workout and spectacular views.
CAMPING & CABINS
Bootjack and Pantoll campgrounds on Panoramic Highway each have 15 first-come, first-served sites about 100 yards from the parking area. Both campsites offer drinking water, firewood and restrooms with flush toilets. No showers are available. Both of these campgrounds have sites that are wheelchair accessible. For more information, call Pantoll Ranger Station at 415-388-2070.
Rocky Point/Steep Ravine Environmental Campground, on a marine terrace one mile south of Stinson Beach, has seven primitive sites and nine rustic cabins. Each cabin has a small wood stove, picnic table, sleeping platforms and an outdoor barbecue, but no running water. Restrooms and water faucets are nearby. Reservations are required. Cabin #1 and environmental campsite #7 are wheelchair accessible.
The Steep Ravine cabins were built in the 1920s by the family of philanthropist William Kent. The guest list included famed artists of that era, including photographers Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, Imogen Cunningham and her husband, etcher Roi Partridge, and Western painter Maynard Dixon.
Alice Eastwood Group Camp, on Panoramic Highway near the Mountain Home Inn, has two sites for groups of 25 to 50 people. Both sites have tables, grills, and a large tent space.
Frank Valley Group Horse Camp, on Muir Woods Road about one mile north of Highway 1 at Muir Beach, has tables, fire rings, drinking water, pit toilets, horse troughs, and corrals for up to 12 horses.
For campground and cabin reservation information for Steep Ravine, Alice Eastwood and Frank Valley campgrounds and cabins, use the reservation link at the top of this park's home page or call 800-444-7275. Reservations may be made up to seven months in advance. Only one vehicle and five people may occupy each cabin or campsite. No pets are allowed.
West Point Inn also rents rustic cabins on adjoining land, owned by Marin Municipal Water District. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the Inn was built in 1904 as a stopover and restaurant on the Mill Valley/Mount Tamalpais Railway. The railroad is long gone, but hikers and cyclists can stop at the cozy main lodge for rest and simple self-service refreshments. Accommodations for overnighters are spartan, but you can’t beat the views.
To rent a cabin, go to the website of the West Point Inn Association, whose volunteers maintain and run the lodge.
Staffed by Friends of Mt. Tam volunteers, the park’s visitor center at the East Peak summit has maps, books, souvenirs, packaged snacks, and a wildlife exhibit. Nearby, the park’s railroad history comes to life in the Gravity Car Barn. The visitor center is open from 11 to 4 and the barn is open 12 to 4 on most weekends.
Two short trails at the summit offer a peak experience. The flat, paved Verna Dunshee Trail makes an easy 0.75 mile-long circle around the top. Panels along the way explain the area’s geology, ecology, and cultural history. You can also take the steep quarter-mile Plank Trail to Gardner Lookout on the summit's crown. Either way, the views are spectacular.
Among the park’s other family-friendly activities:
• Enjoy an old-fashioned Broadway musical. Mountain Theater offers outdoor productions in May and June. For dates and reservations, go to the Mountain Play Association website or call 415-383-1100. By trail, the theater is about 3/4 of a mile from Bootjack parking lot or 1/3 of a mile from Rock Spring parking lot. On performance days, plan to arrive well before 11 a.m. to find a spot. Alternately, take it easy and ride the free shuttle from Mill Valley. The Mountain Play Express runs every 15 minutes between 10 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. on performance days.
• Gaze at the stars. Astronomy programs are offered between the new and first-quarter moon from April through October. Programs include a talk and tour of the night sky at the Mountain Theater, followed by star-gazing through tele-scopes at nearby Rock Spring. Hosted by Friends of Mt. Tam and the San Fran-cisco Amateur Astronomers. For more information, go to the Friends of Mt. Tam website. [http://www.friendsofmttam.org/astronomy/schedule]
• Celebrate Earth Day with activities designed to delight and engage families. The event is held on the weekend before or after April 22, the date of the first Earth Day in 1970. To find out about this and other family-friendly group activ-ities on the mountain, check the Friends of Mt. Tam calendar.
California State Park’s do-it-yourself Adventure Guide is designed to make any state park visit more enjoyable and educational for school-age children. Download the guide or call 916-654-2249 to order a copy.
Mount Tam and the smaller park it encircles, Muir Woods National Monument, are home to one of California’s most impressive tree species, the coast redwood. Before or after any trip to see these stately giants, you and your family may want to visit Save the Redwoods League’s online Redwoods Learning Center. The site offers fun, redwood-themed activities, classroom tools, and ways to get involved in redwood protection. Redwoods bingo, anyone?
Teenagers are invited to check out the OneTam Youth Initiative, which includes programs for local students, including “Teens on Trails” and “Restoration Youth Crew.”
One Tam, aka the Tamalpais Lands Collaborative, offers an internship program for teenagers and young adults. Positions involve restoring sensitive habitat, preserving historic features, improving trails, and educating youth—both inside and outside the state park.
Hang gliders can launch from three seaside sites along West Ridgecrest Boulevard. Exact locations are marked on the Mount Tamalpais State Park brochure map.
Available Activities and Facilities at Mount Tamalpais State Park
En route Campsites
Hike or Bike Campsites
Env. Learning/Visitor Center
Exhibits and Programs
Nature & Wildlife Viewing
Drinking Water Available