The National AIDS Memorial Grove is a living tribute to all whose lives have been touched by AIDS, and a dedicated space where people can gather to heal, hope, and remember. Its purpose is to ensure that those who have suffered from the AIDS epidemic — both those who have died and those who have shared their struggle — are not forgotten. It is a place for quiet reflection among the rhododendrons and redwoods, where people can seek out solitude or gather in groups for memorial services, celebrations, and picnics. Near the eastern entry is the Circle of Friends, a circular stone plaza in which names of those who have been touched by AIDS are inscribed, and where many leave informal remembrances to loved ones. In the middle section of the grove is a sunny meadow; from there, trails wind up through the Fern Grotto and Circle of Peace to the western entry.
The idea for the grove was first proposed in 1988, and in 1991 renovation began on the chosen site, de Laveaga Dell. Architects and designers volunteered their services to create a landscaping plan for the neglected and overgrown site, and thousands of volunteers have now donated tens of thousands of hours to clearing, planting, and maintaining the grove. Native trees, shrubs, and other plants have been reintroduced, paths and benches installed, and boulders of Sierra granite placed; site improvements are ongoing. Several pathways wind through groves of dogwood, redwood, oak, and pine trees, and at the western end, lush ferns tower overhead in the Fern Grotto. Much of the grove is wheelchair-accessible. In 1996, the grove was designated an official national memorial by Congress and the president.
The grove is designed primarily for use by individuals and small groups, but larger groups may also use it for memorial services, weddings, commitment ceremonies, picnics, and other celebrations. All events require permission, and fees are charged for larger events. For more information about guidelines and permits, see www.aidsmemorial.org.
The National AIDS Memorial Grove is located in the eastern end of Golden Gate Park, at the intersection of Bowling Green and Middle Drive East, across from the tennis courts.