John Muir Quotes

50+ John Muir Quotes to Deepen Your Connection to Nature

John Muir was a farmer, inventor, sheepherder, naturalist, explorer, and writer, but is more popularly known as The Father of our National Park System. He created Yosemite National Park and was involved in the creation of other national parks, like Mount Rainier, Sequoia, the Petrified Forest, and the Grand Canyon. 

Muir was born in 1838 in Scotland but he and his family moved to the United Stations–specifically Wisconsin–in 1949. His father liked the discipline and for the kids to work from dawn to dusk. While working in the countryside, John Muir grew into his love for nature and the wilderness. He spent time carving wood to create mechanisms, like a clock, and eventually, he took his inventions to the Madison State Fair. 

In 1867, he began a long journey around the country and some surrounding areas: he walked from Indianapolis to the Gulf of Mexico, from there he sailed to Cuba and Panama and then up to the West Coast, landing in San Francisco. However, California quickly became Muir’s home, specifically, Yosemite. In Yosemite, he herd sheep, found glaciers in the Sierra, conducted a theory about the glaciers in Yosemite Valley, and wrote a series of articles titled Studies in the Sierra. He was getting noticed for his work: not only did writer Ralph Waldo Emerson and botanist Asa Gray visit him at Yosemite, but Muir’s most famous book, Our National Parks, got the attention of President Theodore Roosevelt too.  

In a series of articles, Muir drew attention to the destruction of mountain meadows and forests from sheep and cattle and worked to fix it. Thus, the creation of Yosemite National Park. This infamous and well-loved national park is visited by locals and tourists every day, who admire the beauty of the ancient sequoia trees, cliffs, waterfalls, deep meadows, grand valleys, and so much more. He was also involved with other national parks that are known, loved, and visited today, including the Grand Canyon. 

In 1880, Muir married Louie Wanda Strenzel and they had two daughters, Wanda and Helen. Throughout his life, he traveled anywhere and everywhere: Australia, South America, Africa, Europe, China, Japan. He wrote about his travels with 10 major books and over 300 articles, inspiring readers to go out and find a love for nature and see all the beauty that the world offers. Unfortunately, Muir died in 1914 from double pneumonia. 

By being a naturalist and conservationist, Muir had a love for nature that was unmatched. With his drive to preserve the wilderness, he is an inspiration to environmentalist activists. Here is some amazing John Muir quotes to inspire every person who loves to travel, be one with nature, and see the wildness of the world.

John Muir Quotes
Library of Congress

John Muir Quotes on Wilderness and the People In It

“Most people are on the world, not in it. ”

“Few places in this world are more dangerous than home. Fear not, therefore, to try the mountain passes. They will kill care, save you from deadly apathy, set you free, and call forth every faculty into vigorous, enthusiastic action.”

“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.”

“There is a love of wild nature in everybody, an ancient mother-love showing itself whether recognized or no, and however covered by cares and duties.”

“Who wouldn’t be a mountaineer! Up here all the world’s prizes seem nothing.”

“I am losing precious days. I am degenerating into a machine for making money. I am learning nothing in this trivial world of men. I must break away and get out into the mountains to learn the news.”

“One day’s exposure to mountains is better than a cartload of books.”

“Most people who travel look only at what they are directed to look at. Great is the power of the guidebook maker, however ignorant.”

“I never saw a discontented tree.”

“None of Nature’s landscapes are ugly so long as they are wild.”

“Only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness. All other travel is mere dust and hotels and baggage and chatter.”

“Going to the mountains is going home.”

“The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.”

“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.”

“In every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks.”

“The rivers flow not past, but through us, thrilling, tingling, vibrating every fiber and cell of the substance of our bodies, making them glide and sing.”

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.”

“Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the Autumn leaves.”

“Come to the woods, for here is rest. There is no repose like that of the green deep woods.”

“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”

“More and more, in a place like this, we feel ourselves part of wild Nature, kin to everything.”

“I care to live only to entice people to look at Nature’s loveliness.”

“All the world was before me and every day was a holiday, so it did not seem important to which one of the world’s wildernesses I first should wander.”

“Between every pine tree there is a door leading to a new way of life.”

“As long as I live, I’ll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing. I’ll interpret the rocks, learn the language of flood, storm, and the avalanche. I’ll acquaint myself with the glaciers and wild gardens, and get as near the heart of the world as I can.”

“The sun shines not on us but in us.”

“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.”

One is constantly reminded of the infinite lavishness and fertility of Nature — inexhaustible abundance amid what seems enormous waste.”

“The power of imagination makes us infinite.”

“The mountains are fountains of men as well as of rivers, of glaciers, of fertile soil. The great poets, philosophers, prophets, able men whose thoughts and deeds have moved the world, have come down from the mountains – mountain dwellers who have grown strong there with the forest trees in Nature’s workshops.”

“The mountains are calling and I must go.”

“Let children walk with nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life, and that the grave has no victory, for it never fights.”

“Wherever there were glaciers, the world was in a constant state of creation.” 

“Nature is always lovely, invincible, glad, whatever is done and suffered by her creatures. All scars she heals, whether in rocks or water or sky or hearts.”

“Earth has no sorrow that earth cannot heal.”

“This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never dried all at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.”

“Handle a book as a bee does a flower, extract its sweetness but do not damage it.”

Walk away quietly in any direction and taste the freedom of the mountaineer. Camp out among the grasses and gentians of glacial meadows, in craggy garden nooks full of nature’s darlings.”

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”

“Nature in her green, tranquil woods heals and soothes all afflictions.”

“The finest of the glacier meadow gardens lie…imbedded in the upper pine forests like lakes of light.”

“The soft light of morning falls upon ripening forests of oak and elm, walnut and hickory, and all Nature is thoughtful and calm.”

“There is that in the glance of a flower which may at times control the greatest of creation’s braggart lords.”

“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”

“I always befriended animals and have said many a good word for them. Even to the least-loved mosquitoes I gave many a meal, and told them to go in peace.”

“We are now in the mountains and they are in us, kindling enthusiasm, making every nerve quiver, filling every pore and cell of us.”

“Come to the woods, for here is rest.”

“But it is in the darkest nights when storms are blowing and the agitated waves are phosphorescent, that the most impressive displays are made.”

John Muir Quotes About God, the Universe, and the Creation of Nature

“At the touch of this divine light, the mountains seemed to kindle to a rapt, religious consciousness, and stood hushed like devout worshippers waiting to be blessed.”

“This star, our own good earth, made many a successful journey around the heavens ere man was made, and whole kingdoms of creatures enjoyed existence and returned to dust ere man appeared to claim them.”

“Wherever we go in the mountains, or indeed in any of God’s wild fields, we find more than we seek.”

“In God’s wildness lies the hope of the world – the great fresh unblighted, unredeemed wilderness.“

“The world, we are told, was made especially for man – a presumption not supported by all the facts. A numerous class of men are painfully astonished whenever they find anything, living or dead, in all God’s universe, which they cannot eat or render in some way what they call useful to themselves.” 

“I have never yet happened upon a trace of evidence that seemed to show that any one animal was ever made for another as much as it was made for itself. Not that Nature manifests any such thing as selfish isolation. In the making of every animal the presence of every other animal has been recognized.”

“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”

“Oh, these vast, calm, measureless mountain days, days in whose light everything seems equally divine, opening a thousand windows to show us God.”

“A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship.”

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.”

“The scenery of the ocean, however sublime in vast expanse, seems far less beautiful to us dry-shod animals than that of the land seen only in comparatively small patches; but when we contemplate the whole globe as one great dewdrop, striped and dotted with continents and islands, flying through space with other stars all singing and shining together as one, the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty.”

“The world, we are told, was made especially for man — a presumption not supported by all the facts.”

“God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools.”

“All the wild world is beautiful, and it matters but little where we go, to highlands or lowlands, woods or plains, on the sea or land or down among the crystals of waves or high in a balloon in the sky; through all the climates, hot or cold, storms and calms, everywhere and always we are in God’s eternal beauty and love. So universally true is this, the spot where we chance to always seem the best.”

“God never made an ugly landscape. All that sun shines on is beautiful, so long as it is wild.”

Do you have any favorite John Muir quotes?

For Further Reading

Here are some books by or about Muir, on National Parks, the beauty of nature, the wilderness, and a passion for traveling:

Our National Parks

The Yosemite

Little Naturalists: The Adventures of John Muir

A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir

John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir

More Quotes:

About the author
January Nelson is a writer, editor, dreamer, and occasional exotic dancer and a collective pen name. Read more articles from January on Thought Catalog.

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