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Gulf Islands National Seashore
Copyright: - US National Park Service
Gulf Islands National Seashore
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.

Attractions - 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.

Visitors Centers:

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.

Location - 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.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
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Filed By: Bryan (Indianapolis, IN)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Perfect. Traveled there in spring of 2003 and 2004. Figured out that towing a raft on the bay side with our stuff made the 1/2 mile hike easier

Filed By: Wyatt70119 (New Orleans, LA)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Camped at the Perdido Key Gulf Island National Seashore over the Easter weekend. Only saw 2 other small groups camping. Reasonably remote if you can ignore the condo spires a few miles to the west. Beach was clean, no trash, but there is was virtually no shade down on the eastern end of the key. The 1/2 mile hike through the soft panhandle sand with WAY TOO MUCH stuff was tough, but I'm sure that's what keeps the crowds down. Surf fished one morning and caught some beautiful pompano. Shared it with the others camping near us, and everyone ate well that nite. Also caught some nice size sharks (46"-52", all safely released), so be aware that they're out there. Tide can also rip thru there so be safe. On the gulf side we didn't really have many bug issues, but the lagoon side has a healthy population of hungry no-see-ums (biting gnats) that come out in force at night if the wind dies down. Plan on returning later in the fall, but will be packing much lighter.

Filed By: B-Rich (New Orleans, LA)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Camped at the primitive camping area on Perdido Key, on the beach (Gulf) side. Not much room for camping on the Big Lagoon side; too much vegetation close to shoreline (NPS wants campers to avoid vegetated areas). Fires are allowed, but there is little if any (dry)driftwood to be found. We made one with hickory chunks we carried in. Little if any problems with bugs; no mosquitoes, only saw one or two deerflies. Lots of "ghost crabs", birds such as Great Blue Herons. There appeared to be only one other couple camping out there with us, but it had rained all day and we went late. Not terribly "remote"; you can see tall condos to the west in Perdido Key, at night the glow of big city lights from Pensacola and across Big Lagoon you can see lights from houses and such. Also the channel markers from Pensacola going out into the Gulf. NO SHADE in the western camping sector; looked like there were some trees further east. Still, it's a nice getaway for some beach camping. The worst is havig to camp no closer than 1/2 mile from the end of the road, and not being able to park at the end of the road. You can drop off your gear at the end of the road, though. My advice is to pack light-- trudging across the sand with a fully loaded pack and cooler can get tiresome, especially under the summer sun.

Filed By: tim koehler (new orleans, la)
Number of People Encountered: 25-50 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: by far the most beautiful, secluded beaches in the u.s. great campground, clean facilities, super people. see the blue angels practice once a week during summer. please watch for sharks and riptides in ocean.

Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Great Park

More Information

Contact Information:
Gulf Islands National Seashore, 1801 Gulf Breeze Parkway , Gulf Breeze, FL, 32561, Phone: 850-934-2604

Florida District, 1801 Gulf Breeze Parkway , Gulf Breeze, FL, 32561, Phone: 850-934-2600

Mississippi District, 3500 Park Road , Ocean Springs, MS, 39564, Phone: 228-875-0821

Additional Information:
Coastal Region - This region includes the southeast corner of Mississippi, from the Laurel area, south through Hattiesburg to the Gulf Coast.
Florida National Forests & Parks - Florida's National Forests and National Parks contain a unique diversity of plants and animals, and numerous developed recreational facilities. Four National Forests and eleven National Park lands are located throughout the state.
Hattiesburg Area - Hattiesburg is a small city located in the southeast region of Mississippi that offers a variety of recreational, cultural, education and historical choices.
Jackson Area - Outdoor life in the County is always a beautiful and educational experience. As one of Mississippi's 27 state parks, Jackson County's own Shepard State Park provides its visitors with picnic areas, bike and nature trails, and areas for tent camping. The Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge and the Pascagoula Wildlife Management Area are popular wildlife refuges that are open to hikers, bird watchers. Campers will also enjoy the beautiful Gulf Islands National Seashore Park in Ocean Springs.
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.

Gulf Islands National Seashore - Official agency website.


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