Gulf Islands National Seashore
The Gulf Islands National Seashore not only preserves national and historic resources along the Gulf of Mexico barrier islands of Florida and Mississippi but is also offers several recreational activities. The National Seashore is administered by the National Park Service and was authorized on January 8, 1971.
The Florida District of the Gulf Islands National Seashore has offshore barrier islands with white quartz sand beaches that have historic fortifications and nature trails. The mainland features located near Pensacola, Florida, include beaches, military forts such as Fort Pickens, and the Naval Live Oaks Reservation.
The Mississippi District of the Gulf Islands National Seashore has natural beaches, wildlife sanctuaries, historic sites, nature trails, campgrounds, picnic areas, bayous, and islands that are only accessible by boat. The only part of the seashore in Mississippi that is accessible by automobile is the Davis Bayou Area.
Severe storms caused some sizeable damage to public infrastructure during the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons. The infrastructure was repaired in the following years, and all roadways, visitor centers, and campgrounds are fully operational.
There are also many species of fish, crabs, and shrimp that make their homes in the waters of the Gulf Islands National Seashore. If you’re looking to do a little fishing, Rock Bottom Fishing Charters can provide you and your family with the fishing trip of a lifetime. Whether it’s inshore or offshore, Rock Bottom Charters is equipped to handle the adventure. We also have dolphin tours that are fun for the whole family!
The National Seashore also offers other recreational outdoor activities such as hiking, boating, wildlife viewing, snorkeling, camping, biking, ranger-led programs, and fort tours. The Seashore is a fantastic place to see wildlife such as the gopher tortoise, sea turtles, Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, and over 300 species of birds, so be sure to grab your camera and some binoculars!
For those of you into history, you can explore three of the forts built to fortify Pensacola Harbor: Fort Barrancas, Fort McRee, and Fort Pickens, which are all administered by the National Park Service.
Campgrounds and Visitor Centers
If you want to spend a few days exploring the National Seashore, there are two developed campgrounds there, and primitive camping is also permitted in designated areas. In Florida, the Pickens Campground is located on Santa Rosa Island, just south of Pensacola and Gulf Breeze, Florida. The campground is open for reservation all year and contains 137 family sites with water and electric hookups, along will 41 non-electric tent sites.
There are three visitor centers located in the Florida District of the Seashore – Naval Live Oaks Visitor Center in Gulf Breeze, Florida; Fort Barrancas Visitor Center in Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida; and Fort Pickens Visitor Center in Pensacola Beach, Florida. There are also a variety of fees that apply to the various entrances and activities at the Gulf Island National Seashore and can be viewed here.