60 John Muir Quotes Will Inspire You to Get Back to Nature

Do you care deeply about our planet, its breathtaking beauty, and its myriad life forms? If the answer is “Yes,” then you really ought to read up on John Muir.

Aptly nicknamed “John of the Mountains,” Muir was a prominent Scottish-American author, explorer, naturalist, and environmental philosopher.

A passionate advocate for the preservation of the American wilderness, he also inspired the creation of many national parks. These include the world-famous Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks.           

Muir’s brilliant and heart-touching writings were key in helping his message reach and call to action millions of readers. To give you a taste of both his creative genius and profound love for nature, here are 60 of the best John Muir quotes.

Quotes About The Transformative Qualities of Nature

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John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir (1938)

In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks. 

“Mormon Lilies”, San Francisco Daily Evening Bulletin (19th July 1877)

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 off like autumn leaves.

The Mountains of California (1894)

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.

Alaska Days with John Muir (1915)

The sun shines not on us but in us. 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. The trees wave and the flowers bloom in our bodies as well as our souls, and every bird song, wind song, and tremendous storm song of the rocks in the heart of the mountains is our song, our very own, and sings our love.

John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir (1938)

Come to the woods, for here is rest. There is no repose like that of the green deep woods. Here grow the wallflower and the violet. The squirrel will come and sit upon your knee, the logcock will wake you in the morning. Sleep in forgetfulness of all ill.

John Muir

I ran home in the moonlight with long, firm strides; for the sun-love made me strong.

“A Geologist’s Winter Walk”, Overland Monthly, volume 10, number 4 (1873)

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

John Muir

And into the woods I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.

John Muir

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

John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir (1938)

Earth has no sorrow that earth can not heal. 

John Muir

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. 

John Muir

John Muir Quotes About Nature’s Beauty

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 of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir (1938)

Another glorious day, the air as delicious to the lungs as nectar to the tongue; indeed the body seems one palate, and tingles equally throughout. 

John Muir

I never saw a discontented tree

John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir (1938)

The snow is melting into music.

John Muir

There is nothing more eloquent in Nature than a mountain stream.

John Muir

One must labor for beauty as for bread.

John Muir

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.

The Wild Muir: Twenty-Two of John Muir’s Greatest Adventures (1994)

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

John Muir

The morning stars still sing together, and the world, not yet half made, becomes more beautiful every day.

John Muir

When one is alone at night in the depths of these woods, the stillness is at once awful and sublime. Every leaf seems to speak.

John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir (1938)

Another glorious day, the air as delicious to the lungs as nectar to the tongue.

My First Summer in the Sierra (1911 )

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

The Life and Letters of John Muir (1924)

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 be always seems the best.

John Muir

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

Our National Parks (1901)

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.

The Yosemite (1912)

Importance of National Parks & Conservation

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.

Our National Parks (1901)

Yosemite Park is a place of rest… None can escape its charms. Its natural beauty cleans and warms like a fire, and you will be willing to stay forever in one place like a tree. 

John Muir

The battle for conservation must go on endlessly. It is part of the universal warfare between right and wrong. 

John Muir

Any fool can destroy trees. They cannot run away.

John Muir

The battle we have fought, and are still fighting for the forests is a part of the eternal conflict between right and wrong, and we cannot expect to see the end of it.… So we must count on watching and striving for these trees, and should always be glad to find anything so surely good and noble to strive for.

“The National Parks and Forest Reservations” in a speech published in the Sierra Club Bulletin (1896)

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 of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir (1938)

Fortunately wrong cannot last. Soon or late it must fall back home to Hades, while some compensating good must surely follow.

John Muir

Quotes to Inspire You to Get Out Into the Wild

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.

The Mountains of California (1894)

Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life.

John Muir

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.

John Muir

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

Travels in Alaska (1915)

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.

The Scotsman who saved America’s wild places (2014)

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

Son of the Wilderness: The Life of John Muir (1945)

The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness. 

John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir (1938)

And into the woods I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.

John Muir

Walk away quietly in any direction and taste the freedom of the mountaineer. 

“The Yellowstone National Park”, The Atlantic Monthly, volume LXXXI, number 486 (April 1898)

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.

John Muir

Quotes About Mountains

Of all the upness accessible to mortals, there is no upness comparable to the mountains.

John Muir

How glorious a greeting the sun gives the mountains! 

John Muir

Of all the mountain ranges I have climbed, I like the Sierra Nevada the best.

John Muir

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.

John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir (1938)

Of all the upness accessible to mortals, there is no upness comparable to the mountains. 

John Muir

The mountains are calling and I must go. 

John Muir

Going to the mountains is going home

“In the Sierra Forests”, San Francisco Daily Evening Bulletin (3rd August 1875)

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

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

My First Summer in the Sierra (Part III) (March 1911)

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

John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir (1938)

But the darkest scriptures of the mountains are illumined with bright passages of love that never fail to make themselves felt when one is alone.

John Muir

In our best times everything turns into religion, all the world seems a church and the mountains altars. 

John Muir

Man’s Connection To Nature

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

First Summer in the Sierra (1911)

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

John Muir

One touch of nature makes the whole world kin. 

The Cruise of the Corwin (1917)

Society speaks and all men listen, mountains speak and wise men listen.

John Muir

Nature is ever at work building and pulling down, creating and destroying, keeping everything whirling and flowing, allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion, chasing everything in endless song out of one beautiful form into another. 

John Muir

Nothing truly wild is unclean. 

John Muir

Most people are on the world, not in it. 

John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir (1938)

Here I could stay tethered forever with just bread and water, nor would I be lonely; loved friends and neighbors, as love for everything increased, would seem all the nearer however many the miles and mountains between us.

John Muir

John Muir Bio

Early Years in Scotland

John Muir was born on 21 April 1838 in Dunbar, Scotland. He was the third in a family of eight children, who all received a strict upbringing from their father.

John, however, seems to have been a free spirit from birth. At an early age, he fell in love with nature and would spend hours exploring the rugged Scottish landscape.

Immigration to the U.S.

The Muirs immigrated to the U.S. in 1849 and settled on a farm near Portage, Wisconsin.

Later, aged 22, he enrolled at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. There, he took classes in botany, chemistry, and geology, that would subsequently inform his writings and science work.

A few years later, Muir got a promising job as a supervisor in a wagon-wheel factory. Life, however, had other plans. In March 1867, a workplace accident left him nearly blind.

Muir had to be confined to a dark room for six weeks to regain his sight. It was during that period, as he wondered whether he would end up blind, that he decided to be true to himself from now on and follow his calling.

Adventures and Exploration

From that moment on, Muir dedicated his life to studying and exploring nature and fighting for its cause.

In 1867, he undertook a 1,000-mile walk from Kentucky to Florida. Then, in 1868, he traveled to Cuba to study the local flora and fauna.

Eventually, he settled in California, where his grand love affair with Yosemite began. He hiked, explored, and even lived in Yosemite, and continued his botanical and geological studies. 

Muir also made trips to British Columbia and Alaska, where he even had a glacier named after him.

Legacy and Activism

Activism and preservation were major cornerstones of Muir’s life-long work. His essays and books were read by millions and helped preserve many wild areas.

As part of his efforts to grant Yosemite the status of a national park, Muir published two landmark pieces in The Century Magazine. These articles, “Features of the Proposed Yosemite National Park” and “The Treasures of the Yosemite,” became hugely popular with American readers.

What’s more, they helped push the U.S. Congress to pass the bill that established Yosemite National Park in 1890.

Muir also co-founded the Sierra Club, which has since become one of the major conservation organizations in the U.S.

Lasting Relevance

John Muir’s work and message are every bit as relevant today as they were a hundred years ago. He understood humankind’s deep spiritual connection with nature and our potential to either destroy it or help it flourish.

What’s more, his was one of the voices that changed the way we see our relationship with the natural world for good.

Hopefully, that message shines through in our selection of John Muir quotes and has made you pause and think about how you could help save our common home today.  

John Muir and Teddy Rosevelt at Yosemite

About the Author

CM Burns
CM Burns
CM Burns has been a music video director, a cameraman for Nat Geo, has recorded ancient Tibetan chants in India and swum with whales in Baja, California. Currently living in the Philippines you will find him anywhere Adventure happens.
CM Burns
CM Burns
CM Burns has been a music video director, a cameraman for Nat Geo, has recorded ancient Tibetan chants in India and swum with whales in Baja, California. Currently living in the Philippines you will find him anywhere Adventure happens.
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