Monday, October 17, 2016

San Juan Islands Sculpture Park: Art Integrated into Nature


On a recent getaway to San Juan Island, Washington, I drove off the ferry, picked up The Discovery Map of San Juan Island and Friday Harbor (free) and planned my two-day stay.

In the back of my mind I remembered a friend saying… “don’t forget the sculpture garden… it’s amazing!” So I made sure I found it on the map. It was next to Roche Harbor, another must-do. I plotted out my first day and decided to head right for Roche Harbor at the northern tip of the island. The route was mapped out as part of the San Juan Island Scenic Byway North.

It looked like a 20-minute or so drive. What I found out is that there was so much to see, it could have easily taken my entire day. Fortunately I was greeted by a warm and sunny October morning and most of my plans were outdoor ones.  This was partially because of the weather and partially because I had my hound dog with me.

It was a beautiful drive along Roche Harbor Road. I passed the winery up on the hill, an interesting lake resort and even saw a camel grazing along with cows! No wonder people enjoy biking the road.

I spent some time at beautiful Roche Harbor exploring the history and walking the docks lined with shiny white yachts. Roche Harbor Resort is a picturesque, full-service resort with historic and contemporary accommodations, formal gardens, restaurants, stores, as well as a marina and spa.

Renovations are being done on this late 1880's historic hotel.
The Hotel de Haro is the state's oldest continually operating hotel, and its 20 rooms have hosted visitors since 1886. There is a fascinating display of resort history in the lobby.

After exploring Roche Harbor I headed back up the hill and found the entrance to the San Juan Islands Sculpture Park. We entered through a small building where we picked up a trail map and made a donation. The park is free but wants you to consider a donation ($5 is suggested).  Most of the art in the park is for sale. You’ll have twenty acres to explore and over 150 pieces to see so plan to spend some time there, especially in beautiful weather like I encountered on that October day.

Dogs are allowed at the park.
Cinnamon loved exploring the meadow, woods and bay.
The art you’ll see during your visit may not be the same from month to month. Art is rotated as new pieces become available, as existing pieces are sold and as pieces rotate out of the park after a two-year display. Each year new pieces and new artists are given the opportunity to take their place adding a dynamic to subsequent visits. So my photos may not be the same as your photos when you visit.


I noticed a realistic young girl seated in a garden and then moved to an abstract sculpture. There is quite a variety offered. But it’s not like going to a gallery. The trails take you through the area…. from rolling meadow, to woods to the shore of the bay. There is a pond to explore where I found frog and bird sculptures looking quite at home.

There are places to relax and reflect. I sat by the bay and noticed that the tide was going out. In the distance I could see other islands of the San Juans.

That sunny day, it was easy to sit in the shade and just relax. As I walked back to the entrance I chose another route and saw even more sculptures. Figures were dancing in the meadow and a massive metal work sun loomed over us.

My friends were right. It’s a lovely place to relax and stroll. Who knows, you may find a sculpture for your garden to take home!

When You Go
The sculpture park is open dawn to dusk every day. Dogs are permitted. There is free parking.
Address: 9083 Roche Harbor Road, San Juan Island, WA 98250
Website