John Muir Day – 5 inspiring quotes from legendary Scots naturalist

John Muir Day – 5 inspiring quotes from legendary Scots naturalist

John Muir Day – 5 inspiring quotes from legendary Scots naturalist

Legendary naturalist John Muir’s incredible legacy is celebrated on this day every year to mark his status as a key figure in Scotland and abroad.

Born in East Lothian on this day in 1838, Muir emigrated to America with his family and became immersed in the natural world.

Muir founded the Sierra Club in America which pre-dated preservation organisations like Friends of the Earth.

Their motto “Explore, enjoy, and protect the planet” inspires their work in educating on and preserving America’s national parks.

Muir was famous for his writing and his thinking – here are just some of his most famous quotes.

The mountains are calling – and I must go”

Written in a letter to his sister Sarah, this remains possibly the most famous of Muir’s quotes, as he spoke breathlessly of his desire to return to California’s mountainous terrain to continue his work.

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

After going North to Alaska from his traditional walking place of the stunning beauty of California – Muir found even more to enjoy.

Here he espouses the value of enjoying a regular break in nature to recharge, a strain of thinking that is still popular today.

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”

Written alongside his reflections on the ‘Hetch Hetchy Valley’, a stunning vantage point in Yosemite National Park, Muir again talks of how essential it is to enjoy nature.

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

Often misquoted as ‘when one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world,’ Muir’s quote is one of the most popular and given pride of place on the Sierra Club website.


A botanist to trade, Muir was enamoured with the inter connectivity of plants and other life, and clearly felt even the smallest part of nature was part of something bigger.

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

Found and published as part of Muir’s journals, this quote shows Muir at his most reflective, realising just how much that nature had to offer him.

It is this state of mind that has inspired so many others to follow in his footsteps.

Related articles