Monday, February 12, 2024

The Gardens of Alcatraz


I bet when you think of Alcatraz, you don't think of gardens. But the well-known prison off the coast of San Francisco, California has some lovely gardens. The island of Alcatraz was a barren rock until the 1860s when the first residents planted gardens in pockets of imported soil. Sent to live on this gray island, army families took refuge in Victorian-style flower gardens around the prison.

Prisoners also gardened. Army prison crews, and later a few penitentiary inmates, created a manicured landscape that bloomed until the prison closed in 1963. The flowering terraces, rose beds, and lawns then grew wild for 40 years. 

In 2003, the Garden Conservancy, the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, and the National Park Service began a joint effort to preserve and restore the historic gardens.

The only way to see Alcatraz up close and personal is to take a ferry over. The cost options for tours vary, but most are around $40. If you're in San Francisco, go online to reserve your place on the ferry. You can stay as long as you want once you're there. Ferries leave every hour.  The last one departs from Alcatraz at 4:45. 


  1. Wow. Had no idea of gardens. Visited Alcatraz back in 1993 - very cool place to see. I love CA no matter all its faults (literally).

  2. I had no idea gardens flourished on that rock, either.

  3. Hi Sherry - I think I had heard about the gardens - the place has always fascinated me ... and I'd love to visit. cheers Hilary

    1. It's interesting. It had been on my bucket list to see. I'm glad I finally had the chance.