Screen Name Required

A screen name is required for sharing content on REI. Click here to create a screen name before continuing.

Set screen name

John Muir Day: Honoring a Grand Legacy

April 21 is the birthday of conservationist John Muir, and the date will be recognized in California and elsewhere as John Muir Day. For good reason: Muir, one of America's most famous nature writers, was an early advocate of wilderness preservation in the United States and is widely acknowledged as the "father of the National Park System."


A few points of interest to note the occasion:


·      1838: Muir was born in Dunbar, Scotland. He immigrated with his family to Wisconsin 11 years later.

·      1867: After recovering from an eye injury suffered while working as an industrial engineer, Muir immersed himself in the natural world. He walked 1,000 miles from Louisville, Ky., to Florida, using the "wildest, leafiest, and least trodden way I could find."

·      1868: He visited Yosemite for the first time. His writings and advocacy led to Yosemite being established as a national park in 1890, one of several parks Muir had a hand in establishing. To Muir's disappointment, Yosemite Valley was originally excluded from the original park designation.

·      1892: Muir was elected the first president of the Sierra Club, which battled an effort to reduce the size of Yosemite National Park.

·      1903: Muir and President Theodore Roosevelt camped 3 nights in the Yosemite backcountry, including 1 night at famed Glacier Point. He turned Roosevelt into a Yosemite supporter, and in 1905 Congress added Yosemite Valley to the national park.

·      1914: Muir dies of pneumonia; he served as Sierra Club president until his death.


Among many landmarks that bear his name today:


·      The 211-mile John Muir Trail that travels from Yosemite Valley to Mt. Whitney in Sequoia National Park.

·      Another John Muir Trail, this one in the Big South Fork Recreation Area that straddles the Kentucky-Tennessee border. Roughly 44 miles long, it was designated to honor Muir's 1,000-mile walk to the Gulf of Mexico in 1867.

·      Muir Woods National Monument, part of the Golden Gate National north of San Francisco, which also includes Muir Beach.

·      Camp Muir, at the 10,000-foot level of Mt. Rainier where today as many 110 climbers per night may camp in preparation for a summit attempt on 14,411-foot Rainier; named in Muir's honor because he determined the site was suitable for camping due to the presence of pumice, which indicated the area was sheltered from strong winds.

·      Muir Glacier, another of his discoveries, in what today is in Alaska's Glacier Bay National Park.

·      The John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez, Calif., which preserves a portion of the orchards, woodlands and ranch plus mansion where from 1890 Muir lived with his wife, Louise, a native of the area.


Any writer has to admire Muir's prose. One of my favorite Muir quotations: "The clearest way to the Universe is through a forest wilderness." Eight of his 12 books are compiled into a single volume in John Muir: The Eight Wilderness-Discovery Books.  Got a favorite Muir quote of your own?


Posted on at 12:51 PM

Tagged: John Muir Day, Yosemite and national parks

Ratings and Comments

(0) (0)
write a comment
You already voted on this.
Log in to comment or rate.

There are so many great Muir quotes to choose from.

My two favorites -

"From garden to garden, ridge to ridge, I drifted enchanted, now on my knees gazing into the face of a daisy, now climbing again and again among the purple and azure flowers of the hemlocks, now down into the treasuries of the snow, or gazing afar over domes and peaks, lakes and woods, and the billowy glaciated fields of the upper Tuolumne, and trying to sketch them. In the midst of such beauty, pierced with its rays, one's body is all one tingling palate. Who wouldn't be a mountaineer! Up here all the world's prizes seem nothing". John Muir

"One can make a day of any size, and regulate the rising and the setting of his own sun and the brightness of its shining."
John Muir

Flag as Inappropriate

Flagging Questionable Content Protects the Community at

In what way this content is inappropriate? Please check one:

More Details (Optional)

Submit answer


Unable to Post Comment

We were unable to post your comment at this time. Your opinion matters, so please try again later.

  • Most Recent
  • Most Commented

    No entries found

    No entries found