Alcatraz Gardens Tours
There are two kinds of Alcatraz Gardens tour experiences:
— Every Friday and Sunday at 9:30 AM a docent-led tour of the Alcatraz Gardens starts at the dock on Alcatraz, the spot where all visitors arrive on the island.
— Every Wednesdays from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM an Alcatraz Gardener will meet visitors at the Officer’s Row Overlook and then lead a tour of the Alcatraz Gardens, answering questions. The garden’s staff are volunteers, so be sure to thank them if you use this option.
The Gardens of Alcatraz
For the thirty years that Alcatraz served as a prison, the guards, administrative staff and even some prisoners worked to create brightly colored gardens to make life on the windswept island more pleasant. Slowly, through experimentation, they found species that could tolerate the wide range of temperatures, wind and humidity on Alcatraz.
When the prison closed in March of 1963 the gardens were abandoned. Even after the island became part of a National Park in 1973 no funds were dedicated to restoring the gardens.
After four decades in which the gardens were “on their own” the restoration work began. In 2003, the Garden Conservancy and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy teamed up with the National Park Service to begin the process of re-launching the gardens on Alcatraz.
The best part of the story? Some of the species of flowering plants that had been abandoned forty years before were still thriving on Alcatraz, with little or no human intervention over the years.
The group of volunteers who maintain the Alcatraz gardens have their own website, and the gardens are (for us as one group of visitors) a highlight of any visit to Alcatraz.