Road Trip Day 8: Mt. Tamalpais, Muir Woods, San Francisco

Ok, first of all, I’m terrible at blogging and have taken way too long to write this final road trip post. In my defense, it’s been a stressful few weeks and I’m only now getting a chance to breathe. Enough excuses though: join me for day 8, where I kick off the final leg on Mt. Tamalpais!

As I wasn’t going to be around for sunset, I decided to wake up bright and early (well not exactly “bright” at 4:30am after getting almost no sleep in a hostel) and drive up Mt. Tamalpais for sunrise.

As it turns out the road doesn’t open until 7am, which means I only managed to get up there about 45 minutes after the sun rose. A little disappointing to not get any photos of that early morning pink sky, but pretty magnificent nonetheless.

PNW Road Trip Day 8 Mt Tamalpais California

There was hardly anyone else up there — I only passed other people twice — but the first group I passed warned me that the view was completely fogged in. Uhhh awesome? That’s kind of the whole reason I wanted to go up there! How incredible to look out across the horizon and see nothing but a blanket of fog! It was pretty trippy not having any perception of how high up I was or what was hiding underneath the fog.

PNW Road Trip Mt Tamalpais California

PNW Road Trip Mt Tamalpais California

PNW Road Trip Mt Tamalpais California

Mt. Tamalpais was particularly beautiful with the morning light glinting off its rolling, golden hills. This was probably the only point of my solo adventure where I would’ve liked to have someone with me. Soaking in the morning sunshine high above the clouds felt like a dream and I could’ve used someone pinching me to remind me it was real life (sleep deprivation may have also been at work here.)

PNW Road Trip Mt Tamalpais California

PNW Road Trip Mt Tamalpais California

PNW Road Trip Mt Tamalpais California

PNW Road Trip Mt Tamalpais California

PNW Road Trip Mt Tamalpais California

PNW Road Trip Mt Tamalpais California

PNW Road Trip Mt Tamalpais California

After a couple of hours up top, it was time to drive down to Muir Woods. I wanted to make sure I got there pretty early as a woman who was staying my hostel warned me that it could get very crowded.

PNW Road Trip Mt Tamalpais California

Surprise: even though I arrived before 9am it was pretty crowded. I hadn’t had breakfast yet, so I hung out around the park’s entrance for a while before venturing further, waiting for the cafe to open. The very brazen Muir Woods chipmunks were entertaining company.

PNW Road Trip Muir Woods California

Finally fed, I headed into the forest. I’ll admit, I was expecting something a little different after how few people there were at the Avenue of the Giants the previous day. Luckily most of my fellow visitors respected the sanctuary-like atmosphere of the park and kept pretty quiet. (Except you, group of tourists walking around blasting music out of a literal boombox.)

PNW Road Trip Muir Woods California

PNW Road Trip Muir Woods California

PNW Road Trip Muir Woods California

Ever seen Fern Gully? That’s what Muir Woods feels like.

PNW Road Trip Muir Woods California
PNW Road Trip Muir Woods California
PNW Road Trip Muir Woods California

PNW Road Trip Muir Woods California

Having woken up so early, my internal schedule was pretty wonky by this point. My flight wasn’t until the evening, so I still had plenty of time to kill before returning the rental car. So I made the pretty amazing decision to find an In-N-Out. When in California, right? #worthit

Next up was an attempt to find some Golden Gate Bridge lookout points, so I ended up at Battery Spencer. Hoo boy was it crowded. It was a good thing I had so much time before my flight, as I drove around in loops for a ridiculous amount of time waiting for parking spots to open up at each lookout point. Unfortunately for me the very fog that made my morning on Mt. Tam so incredible was now destroying my view of the bridge, and the rest of San Francisco for that matter.

PNW Road Trip Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco California

PNW Road Trip Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco California

PNW Road Trip Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco California

A little discouraged, I finally drove across the bridge into San Francisco. (Fun fact: it’s a toll bridge with no toll booths, and the rental car company charged me $36. For one toll. I’m not bitter, nooope.)

I had also wanted to check out the view from Marshall Beach, but the fog was showing no sign of clearing and the view was non-existent. Next I decided to see if Twin Peaks offered a better perspective. Well…I have never been in a windier spot in my life. I started climbing up one of the two hills, but I honestly thought I was going to get knocked over and sadly retreated back to the car. Microclimates strike again!

PNW Road Trip Twin Peaks San Francisco California

Since I’d already been to San Francisco a few years ago and hit up a lot of the touristy spots, I didn’t have much else planned for the day. It was only early afternoon by this point, but I’d already been awake for 9 hours. I decided it was time to head to the airport a little earlier than planned so I could catch up on a little rest, after a truly spectacular morning.

So there you have it! All 8 days of my road trip, complete. I hope these posts inspire you to explore the Pacific Northwest, or step out of your comfort zone and try out some solo travel of your own!

Previously:
Day 1: Seattle and Whale Watching!
Day 2: Olympic Peninsula
Day 3: Washington to Oregon
Day 4: Cape Kiwanda and Cannon Beach
Day 5: Multnomah Falls and Portland
Day 6: Oregon Coast and Crescent City
Day 7: Avenue of the Giants, Point Reyes

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