Description - Gulf Islands National Seashore stretches eastward 150 miles from West Ship Island, Mississippi, to the eastern tip of Santa Rosa Island, Florida. It covers an area of blue waters, white beaches, and coastal marshes.
Copyright: National Park Service
Gulf Islands National Seashore
- Miles of offshore islands covered with powder white beaches, historic structures, nature trails and adjacent open waters are the main attractions at Gulf Islands National Seashore. The dual-state national site provides various ways for visitors to explore and learn about the region. A variety of natural and developed recreations are offered at the 28,976-acre site. Programs, visitor centers and recreations are centered on the historic and wildlife attractions.
Recreation - Information centers are located at Davis Bayou and West Ship Island in Mississippi and at Naval Live Oaks, Fort Pickens and Fort Barrancas in Florida. Individuals interested in camping within the park boundaries will find sites at Davis Bayou in Mississippi and at the Fort Pickens area in Florida. Primitive camping is permitted on Horn Island, East Ship Island and Petit Bois Island in Mississippi. Primitive camping is also allowed on the beach at the east end of Perdido Key in Florida.
There are many options for travel within the park. Roadways connect the six separate geographic locations in Florida. A passenger ferry service from Gulfport to West Ship Island operates from March through October in Mississippi. Boardwalks and designated paths to beaches have been developed to prevent dune erosion. Self-guiding nature trails are located in Davis Bayou, Fort Pickens, Perdido Key, Fort Barrancas, and Naval Live Oaks. The northern terminus of the Florida National Scenic Trail is at the Santa Rosa area and Fort Pickens area. Bicycle enthusiasts can enjoy Live Oak Bicycle Trail at Davis Bayou and the bike trail in the Fort Pickens area.
Wildlife enthusiasts will find the best viewing opportunities at Naval Lives Oaks, south of U.S. Highway 98 near the visitor center and the entire west end of Santa Rosa Island. These are well known bird-watching areas. Spying over the ocean often rewards tourists with sights of bottle-nosed dolphins.
Swimming, scuba diving, and fishing are also popular. A pier on the bay side near Fort Pickens and surf fishing along the beach rewards anglers with sheepshead, redfish, flounder, speckled trout, and Spanish mackerel.
Naval Live Oaks Visitor Center, located at Gulf Breeze, closed Christmas Day. Open year-round, 8 A.M. to 5:30 P.M.; call 850-934-2600 for details.
Fort Pickens Visitor Center, located at Pensacola Beach, closed Christmas Day. Open year-round March to October - 9:30 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. and from November to February - 8:30 A.M. to 4:00 P.M.; call 850-934-2635 for details.
Fort Barrancas Visitor Center, located at Pensacola Naval Air Station, closed Christmas Day. Open year-round March to October - 9:30 A.M. to 4:45 P.M. and from November to February - 8:30 A.M. to 3:45 P.M.; call 850-455-5167 for details.
Climate - The panhandle area of Florida experiences mild, comfortable winters and warm to hot, humid summers. The average summer temperatures reach well above 83 degrees Fahrenheit (above 29 Celsius). Winters are mild with temperatures averaging below 52 degrees Fahrenheit (below 11 Celsius). The average precipitation for the panhandle area is more than 60 inches per year. August and September are peak months of the hurricane season that lasts from June 1 through November 30.
This national park spans 150 miles from the eastern shoreline of Ocean Springs, Mississippi, to Pensacola, Florida. It includes offshore islands of West Ship, Mississippi, and Santa Rosa, Florida.