Gardens of Alcatraz

West Side Garden

From the military to the penitentiary era, plants softened the Rock for those who called Alcatraz home. Through gardening, island residents created beauty in a place focused on defense, punishment, and confinement. The families of the guards enjoyed tea parties in the gardens, and gardening became a welcome pastime. For trusted inmates, the gardens were an escape from daily prison life. Even today, the thriving gardens are a stark contrast to the somber prison.

After closure of the prison in 1963, many plants survived decades without care. These survivors are excellent choices for gardeners in the Bay Area or other Mediterranean climates. Since 2003, The Garden Conservancy has been working in partnership with the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy and the National Park Service to restore these wonderful gardens and to share the stories with visitors.

Join a garden docent for an up-close look at the restored historic gardens of Alcatraz. Learn about the softer side of the Rock and how gardens made life tolerable for residents of the barren island. Tours leave the Alcatraz dock at 9:30 am every Friday and Sunday.

For more information about the gardens, visit

West Side Garden

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