Title Image - Quotes by Author John MuirPhoto Credit: WikiMedia Commons

Welcome to our collection of quotes (with shareable picture quotes) by John Muir. We hope you enjoy pondering them and that you will share them widely.

Wikipedia Summary for John Muir

John Muir ( MEWR; April 21, 1838 – December 24, 1914) also known as "John of the Mountains" and "Father of the National Parks", was an influential Scottish-American naturalist, author, environmental philosopher, botanist, zoologist, glaciologist, and early advocate for the preservation of wilderness in the United States of America.

His letters, essays, and books describing his adventures in nature, especially in the Sierra Nevada, have been read by millions. His activism helped to preserve the Yosemite Valley and Sequoia National Park, and his example has served as an inspiration for the preservation of many other wilderness areas. The Sierra Club, which he co-founded, is a prominent American conservation organization.

In his later life, Muir devoted most of his time to the preservation of the Western forests. As part of the campaign to make Yosemite a national park, Muir published two landmark articles on wilderness preservation in The Century Magazine, "The Treasures of the Yosemite" and "Features of the Proposed Yosemite National Park"; this helped support the push for U.S. Congress to pass a bill in 1890 establishing Yosemite National Park. The spiritual quality and enthusiasm toward nature expressed in his writings has inspired readers, including presidents and congressmen, to take action to help preserve large nature areas.

John Muir has been considered "an inspiration to both Scots and Americans". Muir's biographer, Steven J. Holmes, believes that Muir has become "one of the patron saints of twentieth-century American environmental activity", both political and recreational. As a result, his writings are commonly discussed in books and journals, and he has often been quoted by nature photographers such as Ansel Adams. "Muir has profoundly shaped the very categories through which Americans understand and envision their relationships with the natural world", writes Holmes.

Muir was noted for being an ecological thinker, political spokesman, and religious prophet, whose writings became a personal guide into nature for many people, making his name "almost ubiquitous" in the modern environmental consciousness. According to author William Anderson, Muir exemplified "the archetype of our oneness with the earth", while biographer Donald Worster says he believed his mission was "saving the American soul from total surrender to materialism". On April 21, 2013, the first John Muir Day was celebrated in Scotland, which marked the 175th anniversary of his birth, paying homage to the conservationist.

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

Longer Version:

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.


One can make a day of any size.

--John Muir

Longer Version:

One can make a day of any size and regulate the rising and setting of his own sun and the brightness of its shining.


How narrow we selfish conceited creatures are in our sympathies! How blind to the rights of all the rest of creation!

--John Muir

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

So also there are tides and floods in the affairs of men, which in some are slight and may be kept within bounds, but in others they overmaster everything.

--John Muir

This time it is real -- all must die, and where could mountaineer find a more glorious death!

--John Muir

Look! Nature is overflowing with the grandeur of God!

--John Muir

Listen to them! How wholly infused with God is this one big word of love that we call the world!

--John Muir

I suppose we need not go mourning the buffaloes. In the nature of things, they had to give place to better cattle, though the change might have been made without barbarous wickedness.

--John Muir

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

A little pure wildness is the one great present want, both of men and sheep.

--John Muir

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

If people in general could be got into the woods, even for once, to hear the trees speak for themselves, all difficulties in the way of forest preservation would vanish.

--John Muir

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

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

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

When I was a child in Scotland, I was fond of everything that was wild, and all my life I've been growing fonder and fonder of wild places and wild creatures. Fortunately, around my native town of Dunbar, by the stormy North Sea, there was no lack of wildness.

--John Muir

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

--John Muir

No synonym for God is so perfect as Beauty.

--John Muir

Longer Version:

No synonym for God is so perfect as Beauty. Whether as seen carving the lines of the mountains with glaciers, or gathering matter into stars, or planning the movements of water, or gardening - still all is Beauty!


Writing is like the life of a glacier; one eternal grind.

--John Muir

Winds are advertisements of all they touch, however much or little we may be able to read them; telling their wanderings even by their scents alone.

--John Muir

If the Creator were to bestow a new set of senses upon us, or slightly remodel the present ones, leaving all the rest of nature unchanged, we should never doubt we were in another world, and so in strict reality we should be, just as if all the world besides our senses were changed.

--John Muir

My meals were easily made, for they were all alike and simple, only a cupful of tea and bread.

--John Muir

When I discovered a new plant, I sat down beside it for a minute or a day, to make its acquaintance and hear what it had to tell... I asked the boulders I met, whence they came and whither they were going.

--John Muir

Men use care in purchasing a horse, and are neglectful in choosing friends.

--John Muir

We all flow from one fountain.

--John Muir

Longer Version:

We all flow from one fountain- Soul. All are expressions of one love.


Nothing can be done well at a speed of forty miles a day. The multitude of mixed, novel impressions rapidly piled on one another make only a dreamy, bewildering, swirling blur, most of which is unrememberable.

--John Muir

It may not be easy, life isn't easy, but dreams keep you alive.

--John Muir

The mountains are fountains not only of rivers and fertile soil, but of men.

--John Muir

Longer Version:

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.


Strange the faithless fuss made about taking a walk in the safest and pleasantest of all places, a wilderness.

--John Muir

Wilderness is a necessity ... They will see what I meant in time. There must be places for human beings to satisfy their souls. Food and drink is not all. There is the spiritual. In some it is only a germ, of course, but the germ will grow.

--John Muir

Surely all God's people, however serious or savage, great or small, like to play.

--John Muir

Longer Version:

Surely all God's people, however serious or savage, great or small, like to play. Whales and elephants, dancing, humming gnats, and invisibly small mischievous microbes- all are warm with divine radium and must have lots of fun in them.


Galen Clark was the best mountaineer I ever met, and one of the kindest and most amiable of all my mountain friends.

--John Muir

The last days of this glacial winter are not yet past; we live in 'creation's dawn.' The morning stars still sing together, and the world, though made, is still being made and becoming more beautiful every day.

--John Muir

I don't agree with you in saying that in all human minds there is poetry. Man as he came from the hand of his Maker was poetic in both mind and body, but the gross heathenism of civilization has generally destroyed nature, and poetry, and all that is spiritual.

--John Muir

I...am always glad to touch the living rock again and dip my hand in the high mountain air.

--John Muir

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

It is a vast wilderness of rocks in a sea of light, colored and glowing like oak and maple in autumn, when the sun gold is richest.

--John Muir

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

--John Muir

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

--John Muir

The power of imagination is infinite.

--John Muir

Who publishes the sheet-music of the winds or the music of water written in river-lines?

--John Muir

I always enjoyed the hearty society of a snowstorm.

--John Muir

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

--John Muir

C. albus...I think the very loveliest of all the lily family -- a spotless soul, plant saint, that every one must love and so be made better. It puts the wildest mountaineer on his good behavior. With this plant the whole world would seem rich though non other existed.

--John Muir

I have precious little sympathy for the selfish propriety of civilized man, and if aware of races should occur between the wild beasts and Lord Man, I would be tempted to sympathise with the bears.

--John Muir

There is no estimating the wit and wisdom concealed and latent in our lower fellow mortals until made manifest by profound experiences; for it is through suffering that dogs as well as saints are developed and made perfect.

--John Muir

Go quietly alone, no harm will befall you.

--John Muir

In the eternal youth of Nature, you may renew your own.

--John Muir

Plants, animals, and stars are all kept in place, bridled along appointed ways, with one another, and through the midst of one another -- killing and being killed, eating and being eaten, in harmonious proportions and quantities.

--John Muir

Hiking. I don't like either the word or the thing. People ought to saunter in the mountains...the se mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not 'hike' through them.

--John Muir

In every country the mountains are fountains, not only of rivers but of men. Therefore we all are born mountaineers, the offspring of rock and sunshine.

--John Muir

Imagination is usually regarded as a synonym for the unreal. Yet is true imagination healthful and real, no more likely to mislead than the coarse senses. Indeed, the power of imagination makes us infinite.

--John Muir

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

The making of the far-famed New York Central Park was opposed by even good men, with misguided pluck, perseverance, and ingenuity, but straight right won its way, and now that park is appreciated. So we confidently believe it will be with our great national parks and forest reservations.

--John Muir

I have heard of Texas pioneers living without bread or anything made from the cereals for months without suffering, using the breast-meat of wild turkeys for bread. Of this kind, they had plenty in the good old days when life, though considered less safe, was fussed over the less.

--John Muir

Gigantic second and third growth trees are found in the redwoods, forming magnificent temple-like circles around charred ruins more than a thousand years old.

--John Muir

The radiance in some places is so great as to be fairly dazzling... every crystal, every flower a window opening into heaven, a mirror reflecting the Creator.

--John Muir

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

--John Muir

The blessings of one mountain day, whatever his fate, long life, short life, stormy or calm, he is rich forever.

--John Muir

What a psalm the storm was singing, and how fresh the smell of the washed earth and leaves, and how sweet the still small voices of the storm!

--John Muir

Memories may escape the action of the will, may sleep a long time, but when stirred by the right influence, though that influence be light as a shadow, they flash into full stature and life with everything in place.

--John Muir

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

Under the Timber and Stone Act of 1878, which might well have been called the 'Dust and Ashes Act,' any citizen of the United States could take up one hundred and sixty acres of timber land and, by paying two dollars and a half an acre for it, obtain title.

--John Muir

See how God writes history. No technical knowledge is required; only a calm day and a calm mind.

--John Muir


Ink cannot tell the glow that lights me at this moment in turning to the mountains. I feel strong enough to leap Yosemite walls at a bound.

--John Muir

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

--John Muir

In God's wildness lies the hope of the world.

--John Muir

Longer Version:

In God's wildness lies the hope of the world - the great fresh unblighted, unredeemed wilderness. The galling harness of civilization drops off, and wounds heal ere we are aware.


All Nature's wildness tells the same story: the shocks and outbursts of earthquakes, volcanoes, geysers, roaring, thundering waves and floods, the silent uprush of sap in plants, storms of every sort, each and all, are the orderly, beauty-making love-beats of Nature's heart.

--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.

--John Muir

No temple made with hands can compare with Yosemite.

--John Muir

Longer Version:

No temple made with hands can compare with Yosemite. Every rock in its walls seems to glow with life...Awful in stern, immovable majesty, how softly these rocks are adorned, and how fine and reassuring the company they keep: Their feet among beautiful groves and meadows, their brows in the sky, a thousand flowers leaning confidingly against their feet, bathed in floods of water, floods of light.


But no temple made with hands can compare with Yosemite. Every rock in its walls seems to glow with life...as if into this one mountain mansion Nature had gathered her choicest treasures.

--John Muir

Yosemite Park... 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

A queer fellow and a jolly fellow is the grasshopper. Up the mountains he comes on excursions, how high I don't know, but at least as far and high as Yosemite tourists.

--John Muir

How terribly downright must be the utterances of storms and earthquakes to those accustomed to the soft hypocrisies of society.

--John Muir

Keep in view the common good of the people for all time.

--John Muir

I might have become a millionaire, but I chose to become a tramp.

--John Muir

I am well again, I came to life in the cool winds and crystal waters of the mountains.

--John Muir

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

--John Muir

Tug on anything in nature and you will find it connected to everything else.

--John Muir

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

--John Muir

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

--John Muir

Longer Version:

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


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

How glorious a greeting the sun gives the mountains.

--John Muir

Longer Version:

How glorious a greeting the sun gives the mountains!


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

--John Muir

Longer Version:

One day's exposure to mountains is better than cartloads of books. See how willingly Nature poses herself upon photographers' plates. No earthly chemicals are so sensitive as those of the human soul.



Raindrops blossom brilliantly in the rainbow, and change to flowers in the sod, but snow comes in full flower direct from the dark, frozen sky.

--John Muir

Nothing truly wild is unclean.

--John Muir

When we tug at a single thing in nature, we find it attached to the rest of the world.

--John Muir

Come to the woods, for here is rest.

--John Muir

Longer Version:

Come to the woods, for here is rest. There is no repose like that of the green deep woods. Sleep in forgetfulness of all ill.


Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on seas and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.

--John Muir

The grand show is eternal
It is always sunrise somewhere.

--John Muir

Longer Version:

The 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.


Nature as a poet, an enthusiastic workingman, becomes more and more visible the farther and higher we go; for the mountains are fountains -- beginning places, however related to sources beyond mortal ken.

--John Muir

Few are altogether deaf to the preaching of pine trees. Their sermons on the mountains go to our hearts.

--John Muir

Longer Version:

Few are altogether deaf to the preaching of pine trees. Their sermons on the mountains go to our hearts; and if people in general could be got into the woods, even for once, to hear the trees speak for themselves, all difficulties in the way of forest preservation would vanish.


Quotes by John Muir are featured in:


Nature Quotes
Flower Quotes
Forest Quotes
Love Quotes

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