Glen Canyon Park- A Virtual Stroll

Photographs by Jim Watkins

Special project curated by
Dave Christensen, Director of HMPC

Photographs by Jim Watkins
April 2020

Nestled among San Francisco’s Glen Park, Diamond Heights, and Miraloma Park neighborhoods, the 70-acre Glen Canyon Park offers a spectacular assortment of hiking options that range from a relaxing stroll to hair-raising with a view. The park encompasses the site of the first commercial manufacturing of dynamite in the U.S. In November 1869, less than two years after it began production, the plant was destroyed in an explosion and was never rebuilt at that site. The City of San Francisco purchased the Glen Canyon Park and Recreation site in 1922.

Glen Canyon Park recalls San Francisco’s diverse terrains as they appeared before development of the region in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It incorporates the free-flowing Islais Creek and the associated riparian habitat, an extensive grassland with adjoining trees that supports breeding pairs of red-tailed hawks and great horned owls, prominent rock outcrops, and arid patches covered by “coastal scrub” plant communities. In all, about 63 acres of the park and hollow are designated as undeveloped natural area.

Islais Creek flows along the canyon floor, supporting a diverse streamside ecosystem of willow trees, horsetails, seep monkey flower, and red columbine. The creek is surrounded by an extensive 3.7-mile trail network that leads to a variety of habitats up to the rocky grasslands and scrublands of the canyon’s steep eastern slope. In earlier times, the creek was much larger, more like a river; urban development has now reduced this watershed by as much as 80%. (Source: Wikipedia)

For more information about Glen Canyon Park, see its Wikipedia page at: and the San Francisco Recreation & Parks Department’s website at:

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Jim Watkins Artist Statement

I’ve been chasing the light for close to 30 years now. This pursuit of light started when I was photographing the landscapes and cityscapes of Europe and Asia Minor throughout the 1990s. It continued to flourish among the flat plains and rolling hills that represented the Midwestern landscapes surrounding my hometown of Chicago.

I moved to the San Francisco Bay area in late 2012. Although street photography represented the better part of my world at that point, the lure of the natural landscape had never left my blood. I’m chasing a different light here: a light reflecting off mountains, filtering through the leaves of sky-high coastal redwoods, or permeating a thin layer of ocean mist. Its ethereal quality reminds me of the paintings that emerged from the Hudson River School of the mid-19th century, paintings at which I stared for hours at art museums all over the country.