Teams led by the snake’s originator will begin dismantling it in October

ATASCADERO — It was recently announced that Atascadero’s beloved rock snake will officially be dismantled and removed from around Atascadero Lake in October. The snake originated in August 2020 when Atascadero resident Wanda Kohl started it. In the past two-plus years, the snake has grown to wrap around the entirety of the lake.

“It was not an original idea,” said Kohl. “I was a member of a couple of rock painting groups, and I had seen a couple of different posts that showed where people had done the exact same thing, and I thought, that would be fun; I wonder how it would take off?”

She said she thought a lot about where she was going to start the rock snake. Kohl wanted it to be somewhere it would be seen by as many people as possible, but also where it wouldn’t be destroyed. That’s when she thought of the lake, made a sign to tell people what she was starting, and placed the first couple of rocks down.


“The rest is history. That’s really literally all I did. Everybody else took it over,” added Kohl.

It didn’t take long for the community to start adding to, rallying behind, and enjoying the snake during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was an activity that connected residents one rock at a time.

Earlier this year, the rock snake was vandalized in a way that made it hard to repair the damage.

“I started thinking maybe it’s run its course,” Kohl said. “We tried to repair it. Different people went out and attempted to fix it, and it just hasn’t come back.”

The snake’s current condition is nothing like it was in its glory days, and while the community is sad to see it go, safety concerns and the condition of the rocks have both the city and Kohl noting that it’s time to move on. Kohl added that many of the rocks have already returned to their natural state and that the weather and the elements have worn the paint away.

“It’s just been deteriorating and becoming an eyesore and maybe a little bit of a hazard, so we’re going to take it down,” Kohl stated.

Community members are welcome to pick up their rocks during the rest of September. Kohl and a team will be coming Saturday mornings from 9 to 11 a.m. in October to collect the remaining rocks. And while the snake’s next life is still uncertain, Kohl is looking for suggestions on what to do with the rocks next. 

To volunteer with rock clean-up, please contact Kohl either by phone or text at (805) 468-9084

“Hasn’t it been so fun? I’m definitely going to hold that in my heart and just remember all the good stuff and how everybody was so excited, and how it took people’s minds to a different place during a dark time. So, I’m good with what’s happening,” concluded Kohl.