Description - Over 20 miles of wilderness beach providing important nesting grounds for green sea and loggerhead turtles is featured at Canaveral National Seashore. The area consists of a barrier island offering 24 miles of undeveloped beach and wetland environment. The site encompasses over 57,600 acres and serves as a sanctuary for over 1000 species of plants and 300 species of birds, including 14 threatened or endangered species. The area includes a portion of the 140,393-acre Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. The South District of the park, near Titusville, closes three days before a shuttle launch and reopens the day after a successful launch.
Copyright: - US National Park Service
- This barrier island, subject to the powers of wind, water, and shifting sand, is a place of constant physical alteration. Atlantic waves break on its eastern side and the waters of Mosquito Lagoon and Indian River lap quietly on the west. These waters moderate the temperatures and help create a year-round subtropical haven. Hammocks of ancient oak trees draped with Spanish moss grow within walking distance of palmetto-covered sand dunes. Salt marshes, man-made impoundments, mangrove islands, and the estuaries of lagoon and river serve as feeding grounds for an array of animals. Pine flatwoods and other vegetation create habitats for a variety of wildlife.
Today you can enjoy the recreational opportunities of ocean beaches, fishing, boating, hunting, and wildlife watching, but man is no newcomer here. The earliest known inhabitants were aboriginal Indians. Some of their burial mounds and shell middens remain as evidence of their civilization along the shores of Mosquito Lagoon. Later groups included Spanish explorers, British colonists, and citrus growers. In years that are more recent, mosquito control activities and rocket launches have left their mark on the landscape.
In the early 1960s, the Kennedy Space Center was established on part of Merritt Island. Not all the land was needed for the space program, and two other agencies were invited to help manage the area. In 1963, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in cooperation with NASA, established the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge as a sanctuary for wintering waterfowl. With the creation of Canaveral National Seashore in 1975, the National Park Service took on the dual responsibility of preserving the primitive barrier beach while providing for public enjoyment of its resources. Thus, three different governmental agencies have joined to ensure the proper mesh of the Nations highly technical space program, wildlife management, and public recreation.
Recreation - This site offers many options in the way of recreation. In the North District of the seashore, visitors can view exhibits and obtain information at the New Smyrna Beach Visitor Center. Year-round ranger-led programs given in the North District include walks, talks, canoe programs and seasonal "Sea Turtle Watch" programs. Primitive camping is allowed with a permit, available in the Smyrna Beach Visitor Center. Interpretive exhibits are also available at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge in the South District. A boat launch and boating opportunities are available as well. Paddling in the quieter waters is a good way to view the profusion of animal and birdlife. Several short nature trails and a lengthy 25-mile coastal walk are possible.
Climate - The eastern coast of central Florida is usually hot and humid with thunderstorms throughout summer. Average summer temperatures range between 81 and 83 degrees Fahrenheit (27 - 29 Celsius). Winters are mild and dry with temperatures averaging 58 - 64 degrees Fahrenheit (14 - 18 Celsius). Typical yearly precipitation ranges from less than 52 inches to about 56 inches. Lightweight clothing and sunscreen are highly recommended during the summer months. Sweaters and jackets are appropriate attire in winter.
Canaveral National Seashore lies on the Atlantic coast of central Florida. It is easily accessible from Interstate 95.