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St. Joseph Peninsula State Park

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St. Joseph Peninsula State Park
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St. Joseph Peninsula State Park
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St. Joseph's Beach Fun
Copyright: - Florida Division of Recreation & Parks
St. Joseph's Beach Fun
Description - Native Americans once inhabited the peninsula and gathered shellfish for meals from the bay's shallow waters. Before the area was purchased for development as a state park, it was used as a U.S. Army training facility during World War II.

Named for lifelong community leader and settler T.H. Stone, the park is teeming with wildlife and marine life. Noted as an excellent birding area with sightings of 209 species currently recorded, it is a premier location in the eastern United States for observing hawks during fall migration. Many species can be seen including the endangered peregrine falcon. The monarch butterfly is also on the wing in autumn, making its long migratory journey from northern states to wintering sites in Mexico. Shore and wading birds are in abundance throughout the year.

The best areas of the park to observe birds are along the beach and bayshore, while the sandpine scrub, pine flatwoods and dunes offer protective habitat. The shallow waters of St. Joseph Bay are alive with a variety of marine life. Frequently encountered are bay scallops, hermit, fiddler and horseshoe crabs and octopi. Shelling is a popular activity on the peninsula, however, it is important that no live shells be molested or removed.

Attractions - Just before the park entrance on County Route 30-E, a 1-mile nature trail loops through a pine scrub. The area is well marked with trailhead parking. Once inside the park, visitors first arrive at Eagle Harbor. This is a large day use area with huge parking lots, boat launch, seasonal visitor center (open in winter), picnicking, and snorkeling opportunities located bayside. Boardwalks traverse the 25' high sand dunes, some of Florida's tallest, over to the Gulf waters for a variety of water sports.

As visitors travel beyond Eagle Harbor, the road forks. Bearing right takes travelers over a small tidal inlet arriving at another large parking area with picnic tables and the 1-mile Bay View Trail. Aptly named, the trail travels though a forest of hollies, wax myrtle, wild grape, and saw palmettos. A smattering of tall pines offers little shade. This is a wonderful area for viewing a variety of wading birds that feast on the abundant crabs, oysters, and scallops. Folks enjoy the picnic area with immediate access to snorkeling and swimming waters. Canoeing is very pleasant when the bay is calm. Rentals are available through the park. This is also a great area for beachcombing, surf fishing, and cast netting. Bay scallops are plentiful and make a great evening meal for both humans and birds. Just beyond Bay View Picnic Area, a road bears left to Shady Pines Campground. At the end of this road lies the youth / group camping area and the cabin community. Beyond that, is the 1,650-acre wilderness preserve. Primitive camping in the preserve is by permit only.

Bearing left at the fork takes campers to Gulf Breeze Campground. A boardwalk links it with Shady Pines Campground and an observation deck overlooking the tidal inlet.

Recreation - Visitors to St. Joseph Peninsula enjoy fabulous scenery, beachcombing, snorkeling, sunbathing, camping, canoeing, boating, saltwater fishing, hiking and bird watching. A cabin community offers eight fully furnished units. A primitive campground accommodating up to 25 people is located seven miles "in" to the tip of the peninsula. A boat launch is available in the basin within Eagle Harbor.

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.

Location - St. Joseph Peninsula State Park is located between Port St. Joe and Apalachicola. Access is on County Route 30-E.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
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Filed By: Sarah (Baton Rouge, La)
Number of People Encountered: 11-25 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Coming from Louisiana, it took us about 6.5 hours to finally arrive at St. Joseph Peninsula State Park. It was smooth sailing on I-10 until we had to get on US 98 which slowed us down a little. The upside to that was the fantastic scenic views of the coast and beach side communities all the way to the park. We chose this park after comparing different criteria on the florida state parks website for different parks. We knew that we wanted to be by the beach, snorkel, canoe, ride our bikes, and because of the heat and the fact that we had not been there before, wanted to stay in a cabin. St. Joes offered all this and more! The eight cabins at the park are almostalways booked, but we were lucky to find two days that were available two months before we were to leave. I would definetly suggest that if you are going to be coming from out of state, like we did, with about 4 or more hours of driving, that it is best to stay at least a 3 or 4 night minimum. Basically, we had two days of driving and one day to pack in everything that we wanted to do at the park. Because it is a peninsula, in the middle of scorching August heat, we enjoyed both breezes from the gulf and bay side while we rode our bikes. We were amazed at how private the beach was. Cabin renters have their own gulf beach access through the sand dunes. While we were there, only like 10 people showed up on our side of the beach in a 4 hour period. The first night that we arrived, not a soul was there at 5 oclock while we were exploring the shore. I had read that you could rent canoes at the park, but that is no longer so, and if you would like to rent them, there are two shops outside of the park that rent. We paid 40 dollars for 24 hour rental plus 12 in tax and delivery service. They will deliver and pick up your canoe to your cabin if you want. We got the information for the vendors at the ranger station at the park. The bay water is crystal clear, and shallow. This would be a nice place to snorkel. For snorkeling in the bay, you need to buy a dive flag at one of the shops outside of the park. We snorkeled in the gulf, it is really nice and clear. There is alot of wildlife to be seen. Deer are very frequent and they will stop and stare at you as you walk, drive, or bike by. We had a little run in with a raccoon trying to get our food the first night that we barbequed, so I would suggest to do all your outside cooking while it is still light out, so youll be able to keep an eye on the raccoons. The cabin we stayed in was rustic, but very comfortable. It was loft style, with 2 queen size beds, with a pull out fouton couch and single window bed downstairs, fireplace, rocking reading chair, nice sized shower, sink and toilet in bathroom downstairs, modest kitchen with full refrigerator, sink, half sized stove, full sized microwave, and utensils, dishes and cookware for seven people, plus central air and heat with screened in porch with rocking chair and picnic table. It was very comfortable for us and we didn´t care whether or not it was luxurious because we were going to be spending alot of our time outside anyway. It also had an outside barbeque stand, two dock walkways, one side leading to your car, the other leading right to the bay shore with a bench to watch the bay. It had an outside shower to rinse off sand after a long day at the beach right next to the barbeque. Overall we were overjoyed with this state park. We cannot wait to go back, and we eventually want to try tent camping when it is cooler. This is recommended for all ages. Such a nice get away from ¨it all¨, so relaxing, peaceful, and beautiful at St. Joseph Peninsula State Park.

Filed By: Robert Renick (Columbia, MO)
Number of People Encountered: 25-50 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: I come from a family that does huge camping trips at least 3 times a year. And we have been going to this peninsula once a year since I was born (1982). It is that great! Trust me, if you have kids, there will be NO complaints. The only problems we have ever encountered is A, the heat, and B, mosquitos. But thats a given if your planning a trip anywhere in Florida.

Filed By: Craig (Anniston, AL)
Number of People Encountered: 25-50 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Went back to St. Joseph's for Thankgiving after the really hot experience this summer. Although somewhat cool, it was much more enjoyable for hiking and camping. We got to see more of the bayside trails and wilderness area, even seeing three new (for us)bird species. Beautiful place to visit and relax. Spectacular dunes and beach.

Filed By: Craig T. (Anniston, AL)
Number of People Encountered: 25-50 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Overall: Beautiful beaches and dunes. The bayside is loaded with interesting sealife and the park is full of wildlife. A lot of different varieties of wading birds that we had not seen before. Toughest Part: The heat! Just got back from four days of camping. It was really hot, but it was really hot at home as well. At 100 degrees plus, it was too much to try and walk the shoreline of the park, but is well worth another trip at a cooler time. Suggestions: When reserving your campsite, pick the ones closest to the Gulfside dunes. No wind penetrated the pine scrub to the back side. Gulf Breeze Campground was much more open for wind, but still provided some shade.

Filed By: william stille
Number of People Encountered: 25-50 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: incredible state park - saw two large horned owls and walked in the shallows and saw two horseshoe crabs.. but the best part was the beautiful beaches with huge sand dunes and very few people taking advantage of the sand or surf. left tons of room for my children to roam!

More Information

Contact Information:
St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, 8899 Cape San Blas Road , Port St. Joe, FL, 32456, Phone: 850-227-1327

Additional Information:
Florida State Parks - The mission of the Florida Park Service is to provide resource-based recreation while preserving, interpreting and restoring natural and cultural resources.
Northwest Florida - Sugar white sand, emerald green waters, intriguing geological formations, natural springs, rich history, charming villages, miles of caves, and yearly festivals come together offering the vacationer endless outdoor recreation in Northwest Florida.

Campground Reservations - Reserve your campground online here with reserveamerica.com
Florida Division of Recreation & Parks - Official agency website.


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