Muir Woods, one of the Bay Area's most prolific nature spots, reopened to visitors on Monday — albeit with some changes — after shuttering its gates four months ago due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A steady stream of visitors greeted the giant coastal redwoods on day one, walking the plank pathways to once again take in some of nature's finest works.
"I feel it’s like coming up for a breath of air after a long time," said Pete Yaroschuk, who was visiting the park from San Francisco with his son Liam.
The National Park Service moved forward with its reopening plans even though Marin County has pulled back on some business reopenings following a spike in COVID-19 cases.
Park Spokesman Charlie Strickfaden said the park is making a number of changes to protect parkgoers. Visitors were required to wear masks and some paths were now "one way." Docent tours were on temporary hiatus and so were shuttle busses. Advanced reservations were required and Strickfaden said the National Park Service was limiting the number of visitors at any one time.
"Normally on a busy day we might have 5,000 visitors," Stirckfaden said. "So, we have sort of reduced that down to about 2,000."
The reduction in visitors seemed evident on trails, which were normally filled with people.
"There would be hundreds of people on this road right now," observed Liam Yaroschuk.
Instead, visitors could easily social distance from one another, while getting up close and personal to some of the tallest trees on the planet.
"It’s an escape from what’s going on out in the world," said visitor Barbi Martinez. "But it’s also a reminder that there’s beauty."