ATASCADERO — For roughly two months now, there has been a growing snake of painted rocks slowly slithering its way from the overflow bridge toward Lake View Drive and into the hearts of the Atascadero community. It is hard to put a date on exactly when the painted trail of positivity started precisely, but it was near the start of October or the end of September.

Over the past few months, pictures and descriptions of the various painted rocks have made waves through local social media pages and inspired others to add their creativity to stones of different shapes and sizes.

The rock snake appears to have been the work of popular Facebook group SLO Painted Rocks as they have a sign posted at the beginning. The group has one simple goal, to brighten someone’s day through the discovery of a painted rock with a secret message somewhere in San Luis Obispo County. Members of the group are encouraged to paint a rock, protect it with an acrylic topcoat, and mark the bottom with a message sending the finder back to the page to post a photo of their find.

Their page is full of happy posts from individuals finding rocks hidden in downtown San Luis Obispo and other fun places, but there is no place with such an abundance of art as at the Atascadero Lake.


“My daughter, who is 3, loves the rock snake,” local resident Marin Smith told The Atascadero News. “She likes to walk next to it and delightfully announce each thing she sees. When I suggested that she add her own rocks, she thought it was the best idea she’d ever heard. Normally sort of hesitant to share her things, again she is 3, she eagerly contributed her rock which had a rainbow and the words ‘You Rock’ on it, to the snake. She likes to admire it next to the others when we walk by. I think it was a great first experience for her with the creativity of public art.”

As the snake has grown, so has the creativity and sparkle of the scales that make it unique. The art on the rocks comes in all different skill levels, but as the saying goes, it is the thought that matters. There are rocks of Plankton from “Spongebob” and Mike Wizowski from “Monsters Inc.” There are rocks of superheroes, sports teams, flying pigs, chickens, and Bible verses.

Some have glitter while others have pipe cleaners and marbles, but together they create a beautiful tapestry, displaying the melting pot of differences that make up the community around it.