John Muir was an influential Scottish-American naturalist, novelist, environmental philosopher, botanist, zoologist, glaciologist, and early proponent for the preservation of wilderness in the United States of America. He was also known as “John of the Mountains” and “Father of the National Parks.”

Millions of people have read his letters, articles, and novels on his exploits in nature, particularly in the Sierra Nevada. His advocacy was instrumental in the protection of Yosemite Valley and Sequoia National Park, and his example has inspired the preservation of several other natural places.

We have compiled a list of the best quotes from John Muir.


Best John Muir Quotes on Nature, Yosemite & God

1. “The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” ~ (John Muir).

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2. “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” ~ (John Muir).

3. “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” ~ (John Muir).

4. “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.” ~ (John Muir).

5. “The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.” ~ (John Muir).

6. “Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.” ~ (John Muir).

7. “The mountains are calling and I must go.” ~ (John Muir).

8. “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 leaves of Autumn.” ~ (John Muir).

9. “Nothing truly wild is unclean.” ~ (John Muir).

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10. “Going to the mountains is going home.” ~ (John Muir).

11. “I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” ~ (John Muir).

12. “The power of imagination makes us infinite.” ~ (John Muir).

13. “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” ~ (John Muir).

14. “One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.” ~ (John Muir).

15. “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.” ~ (John Muir).

16. “Most people are on the world, not in it.” ~ (John Muir).

17. “Who wouldn’t be a mountaineer! Up here all the world’s prizes seem nothing.” ~ (John Muir).

18. “I’d rather be in the mountains thinking of God, than in church thinking about the mountains.” ~ (John Muir).

19. “One day’s exposure to mountains is better than a cartload of books.” ~ (John Muir).

20. “We all travel the Milky Way together, trees and men.” ~ (John Muir).

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21. “How glorious a greeting the sun gives the mountains.” ~ (John Muir).

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

23. “Earth has no sorrow that earth can not heal.” ~ (John Muir).

24. “I care to live only to entice people to look at Nature’s loveliness.” ~ (John Muir).

25. “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.” ~ (John Muir).

Popular John Muir Quotes

26. “We are now in the mountains and they are in us, kindling enthusiasm, making every nerve quiver, filling every pore and cell of us.” ~ (John Muir).

27. “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.” ~ (John Muir).

28. “The world, we are told, was made especially for man – a presumption not supported by all the facts.” ~ (John Muir).

29. “Tug on anything in nature and you will find it connected to everything else.” ~ (John Muir).

30. “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity…” ~ (John Muir).

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31. “The sun shines not on us but in us.” ~ (John Muir).

32. “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.” ~ (John Muir).

33. “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 dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.” ~ (John Muir).

34. “Handle a book as a bee does a flower, extract its sweetness but do not damage it.” ~ (John Muir).

35. “It may not be easy, life isn’t easy, but dreams keep you alive.” ~ (John Muir).

36. “Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.” ~ (John Muir).

37. “Society speaks and all men listen, mountains speak and wise men listen.” ~ (John Muir).

38. “In God’s wildness lies the hope of the world.” ~ (John Muir).

39. “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.” ~ (John Muir).

40. “Wander a whole summer if you can. Time will not be taken from the sum of life. Instead of shortening, it will definitely lengthen it and make you truly immortal.” ~ (John Muir).

41. “I am well again, I came to life in the cool winds and crystal waters of the mountains.” ~ (John Muir).

42. “Another glorious Sierra day in which one seems to be dissolved and absorbed and sent pulsing onward we know not where. Life seems neither long nor short, and we take no more heed to save time or make haste than do the trees and stars. This is true freedom, a good practical sort of immortality.” ~ (John Muir).

43. “I will follow my instincts, and be myself for good or ill.” ~ (John Muir).

44. “To sit in solitude, to think in solitude with only the music of the stream and the cedar to break the flow of silence, there lies the value of wilderness.” ~ (John Muir).

45. “A lifetime is so little a time that we die before we get ready to live. I should like to study at a college, but then I have to say to myself: “You will die before you can do anything else”.” ~ (John Muir).

46. “I might have become a millionaire, but I chose to become a tramp.” ~ (John Muir).

47. “Keep in view the common good of the people for all time.” ~ (John Muir).

48. “Another glorious day, the air as delicious to the lungs as nectar to the tongue.” ~ (John Muir).

49. “Books are but steeping stones to show you where other minds have been.” ~ (John Muir).

50. “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.” ~ (John Muir).

51. “Doubly happy, however, is the man to whom lofty mountain tops are within reach.” ~ (John Muir).

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52. “Writing is like the life of a glacier; one eternal grind.” ~ (John Muir).

53. “The battle for conservation will go on endlessly. It is part of the universal battle between right and wrong.” ~ (John Muir).

54. “Divine love is the sublime boss of the universe.” ~ (John Muir).

55. “Rivers flow not past, but through us; tingling, vibrating, exciting every cell and fiber in our bodies, making them sing and glide.” ~ (John Muir).

56. “Hidden in the glorious wildness like unmined gold.” ~ (John Muir).

Top John Muir Quotes

57. “Yosemite Park is a place of rest, a refuge from the roar and dust and weary, nervous, wasting work of the lowlands, in which one gains the advantages of both solitude and society…” ~ (John Muir).

58. “Better to toil blindly, beating every stone in turn for grains of gold, whether they contain any or not, than lie down in apathetic decay.” ~ (John Muir).

59. “How many hearts with warm, red blood in them are beating under cover of the woods, and how many teeth and eyes are shining? A multitude of animal people, intimately related to us, but of whose lives we know almost nothing, are as busy about their own affairs as we are about ours.” ~ (John Muir).

60. “The mountains are fountains not only of rivers and fertile soil, but of men.” ~ (John Muir).

61. “Of all the fire mountains which like beacons, once blazed along the Pacific Coast, Mount Rainier is the noblest.” ~ (John Muir).

62. “One learns that the world, though made, is yet being made; that this is still the morning of creation; that mountains long conceived are now being born, channels traced for coming rivers, basins hollowed for lakes…” ~ (John Muir).

63. “Who reports the works and ways of the clouds, those wondrous creations coming into being every day like freshly upheaved mountains?” ~ (John Muir).

64. “Trees go wandering forth in all directions with every wind, going and coming like ourselves, traveling with us around the sun two million miles a day, and through space heaven knows how fast and far!” ~ (John Muir).

65. “Any fool can destroy trees. They cannot run away; and if they could, they would still be destroyed-chased and hunted down as long as fun or a dollar could be got of their bark hides.” ~ (John Muir).

66. “Any fool can destroy trees, they cannot run away.” ~ (John Muir).

67. “Listen to them! How wholly infused with God is this one big word of love that we call the world!” ~ (John Muir).

68. “The body seems to feel beauty when exposed to it as it feels the campfire or sunshine, entering not by the eyes alone, but equally through all one’s flesh like radiant heat, making a passionate ecstatic pleasure glow not explainable.” ~ (John Muir).

69. “Only spread a fern-frond over a man’s head and worldly cares are cast out, and freedom and beauty and peace come in.” ~ (John Muir).

70. “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.” ~ (John Muir).

71. “But to gain a perfect view, one must go yet further, over a curving brow to a slight shelf on the extreme brink.” ~ (John Muir).

72. “I wish I knew where I was going. Doomed to be carried of the spirit into the wilderness, I suppose. I wish I could be more moderate in my desires, but I cannot, and so there is no rest.” ~ (John Muir).

73. “No words will ever describe the exquisite beauty and charm of this mountain park – Nature’s landscape garden at once tenderly beautiful and sublime. No wonder it draws nature-lovers from all over the world.” ~ (John Muir).

74. “Bread without butter or coffee without milk is an awful calamity, as if everything before being put in our mouth must first be held under a cow.” ~ (John Muir).

75. “Quench love, and what is left of a man’s life but the folding of a few jointed bones and square inches of flesh? Who would call that life?” ~ (John Muir).

76. “I made these Sierra trips, carrying only a sackful of bread with a little tea and sugar, and was thus independent and free…” ~ (John Muir).

77. “How infinitely superior to our physical senses are those of the mind!” ~ (John Muir).

Famous John Muir Quotes

78. “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.” ~ (John Muir).

79. “Man has injured every animal he has touched.” ~ (John Muir).

80. “What is worthwhile in life? I think it is worth living and dreaming. If you don’t you may be dead anyhow – inside.” ~ (John Muir).

81. “Heaven knows that John the Baptist was not more eager to get all his fellow sinners into the Jordan than I to baptize all of mine in the beauty of God’s mountains.” ~ (John Muir).

82. “Yet how hard most people work for mere dust and ashes and care, taking no thought of growing in knowledge and grace, never having time to get in sight of their own ignorance.” ~ (John Muir).

83. “The substance of the winds is too thin for human eyes, their written language is too difficult for human minds, and their spoken language mostly too faint for the ears.” ~ (John Muir).

84. “The wrongs done to trees, wrongs of every sort, are done in the darkness of ignorance and unbelief, for when the light comes, the heart of the people is always right.” ~ (John Muir).

85. “Large flocks of butterflies, all kinds of happy insects, seem to be in a perfect fever of joy and sportive gladness.” ~ (John Muir).

86. “By forces seemingly antagonistic and destructive Nature accomplishes her beneficent designs – now a flood of fire, now a flood of ice, now a flood of water; and again in the fullness of time an outburst of organic life…” ~ (John Muir).

87. “Oh, these vast, calm, measureless mountain days, inciting at once to work and rest!” ~ (John Muir).

88. “Few in these hot, dim, strenuous times are quite sane or free; choked with care like clocks full of dust, laboriously doing so much good and making so much money – or so little, they are no longer good for themselves.” ~ (John Muir).

89. “Wildness was ever sounding in our ears, and Nature saw to it that besides school lessons some of her own lessons should be learned, perhaps with a view to the time when we should be called to wander in wildness to our heart’s content.” ~ (John Muir).

90. “One can make a day of any size.” ~ (John Muir).

91. “Nature had gathered her choicest treasures, to draw her lovers into close and confiding communion with her.” ~ (John Muir).

92. “Every purely natural object is a conductor of divinity, and we have but to expose ourselves in a clean condition to any of these conductors, to be fed and nourished by them. Only in this way can we procure our daily spirit bread.” ~ (John Muir).

93. “Many of Nature’s finest lessons are to be found in her storms, and if careful to keep in right relations with them, we may go safely abroad with them, rejoicing in the grandeur and beauty of their works and ways.” ~ (John Muir).

Short John Muir Quotes

94. “I never saw a discontented tree. They grip the ground as though they liked it, and though fast rooted they travel about as far as we do.” ~ (John Muir).

95. “The most distinctive, and perhaps the most impressive, characteristic of American scenery is its wilderness.” ~ (John Muir).

96. “My meals were easily made, for they were all alike and simple, only a cupful of tea and bread.” ~ (John Muir).

97. “While cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” ~ (John Muir).

98. “Galen Clark was the best mountaineer I ever met, and one of the kindest and most amiable of all my mountain friends.” ~ (John Muir).

99. “You know that I have not lagged behind in the work of exploring our grand wilderness, and in calling everybody to come and enjoy the thousand blessings they have to offer.” ~ (John Muir).

100. “One can make a day of any size and regulate the rising and setting of his own sun and the brightness of its shining.” ~ (John Muir).

101. “See how God writes history. No technical knowledge is required; only a calm day and a calm mind.” ~ (John Muir).

102. “So extraordinary is Nature with her choicest treasures, spending plant beauty as she spends sunshine, pouring it forth into land and sea, garden and desert. And so the beauty of lilies falls on angels and men, bears and squirrels, wolves and sheep, birds and bees…” ~ (John Muir).

103. “God has to nearly kill us sometimes, to teach us lessons.” ~ (John Muir).

104. “I am hopelessly and forever a mountaineer.” ~ (John Muir).

105. “As long as I live, I’ll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing.” ~ (John Muir).


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