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Living Out Loud: Visiting Big Rock Garden Park

Exploring Nature & Art in Big Rock Garden Park

I like my nature with a little art every now and again.  In November I visited Big Rock Garden Park in Bellingham. WA.  I drove past the road to the garden because it is inconspicuously nestled in a bedroom community.  An elderly gentleman out walking his dog saw my look of confusion and motioned for me to roll down my window and when I did, he pointed and said, “the park is that way.”  I smiled sheepishly and thanked him for showing me the way.  I drove down a small alley and soon arrived at the parking lot.  I opened the gate to the park, and I was immediately struck by a sense of calm and peace.  Perhaps that was because I had the garden to myself, or maybe it was because when I stepped upon the gravel pathway, I immediately noticed that I was surrounded by beauty in the form of interesting vegetation, alluring art, and sunny blue skies in a picturesque setting.  I noticed that some pieces blended into the landscape while other art popped with bright colors and/or interesting designs. I meandered about the garden paying close attention to the environment and excited about the art I would discover next, hoping not to miss anything.

Big Rock Garden Park
Located above Lake Whatcom sits a unique city park showcasing original sculptures in a 2.5 acre garden.
Big Rock Garden Park
The Park boasts over 37 permanent works by distinguished international and local artists.
Big Rock Garden Park
Seasonal change in the garden inspires a new experience with each visit.
Open dawn to dusk year round.
It was originally named Gardens of Art by founders George, Mary Ann and David Drake in 1981
Big Rock Garden Hike
Pets are not permitted in Big Rock Garden Park.
sculpture in park
hike in Bellingham
Big Rock Garden Park

I so enjoyed my Big Rock Garden adventure that I conducted some research and learned Western WA has six sculpture parks that would make for awesome day trips, and I do plan to visit all of them.   On a Thursday morning in January, I boarded the ferry in Anacortes for the hour and some change ride to Friday Harbor.  The 15-minute drive from Friday Harbor to Roche Harbor and the San Juan Islands Sculpture Park was a scenic delight with rolling hills, sweeping canyons, and forestland as eye candy along the way.  The park is free for children, but there is a suggested $5.00 donation for adults.  It is $5.00 well spent to keep the volunteer operation afloat.  I was able to traipse along the trails in a carefully curated outdoor space filled with sculptures made from metal, wood, and stone. There are over 100 sculptures to marvel at, wonder about, and photograph.  Getting outdoors has proven beneficial for my physical and mental health, especially during these Coronavirus times.  It is an opportunity for me to meditate and feelings of gratitude envelope me as I find myself not being able to stop smiling in such unique and serene spaces a where nature and art complement one another effortlessly.  

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Dede Johnson
Dede Johnson
Dede Johnson is a middle school administrator by day and a hiking warrior by night. Well, not really by night because that could be dangerous, but you can find her out on a trail most weekends. She started hiking regularly about a year ago and began posting her stories on two Facebook hiking specific pages as a means of tracking her outings and sharing her love of the outdoors with fellow nature enthusiasts. She was surprised at the amount of positive feedback she received from her posts as many enjoy her positivity, humor and honesty. She believes that the joy is in the journey, both in life and on the hiking trail. She is grateful for the abundant beauty that can be found in the Pacific Northwest and will continue to live out loud with fervor, joy and her sense of humor firmly intact.