Gulf Islands National Seashore on the map

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Gulf Islands National Seashore

In the northwest part of the state, near Pensacola, and in southeast Mississippi, near Ocean Springs

 

These offshore islands offer sparkling white-sand beaches, historic forts and structures, nature trails, and adjacent open waters. On the mainland are salt marshes and bayous in the Mississippi District; and there are a Naval Live Oak Reservation and military forts in the Florida District. Research, monitoring, and mitigation programs preserve, protect, and restore the natural and cultural resources within the park. The seashore was authorized on January 8, 1971.

 

WHAT TO SEE & DO

 

Bird-watching, bicycling (rentals, Gulf Breeze, Pensacola Beach), boating (rentals, Gulf Breeze, Pensacola Beach, Perdido Key), fishing, picnicking, swimming, touring forts, walking. Facilities: 4 visitor centers: Naval Live Oaks (U.S. 98 east of Gulf Breeze, FL), Fort Pickens (Santa Rosa Island west of Pensacola Beach), Fort Barrancas (on Pensacola Naval Air Station), William M. Colmer (Ocean Springs, MS); beaches, forts, auditorium, nature trails, interpretive display boards. Ball field, boat launch, book and map sale areas, picnic areas, and shelters. Programs & Events: Tours at Fort Pickens (daily at 2) and Fort Barrancas (daily at 2), Advanced Redoubt (Sat. at 11). Guided tours of Fort Massachusetts on West Ship Island, MS (late Mar.-Oct., daily 10:30 and 1:30), candlelight tours. Beach cleanup (Sept., FL; May and Sept., MS), Earth Day (Apr). Tips & Hints: Don't swim alone in unguarded waters. Be cautious about rip currents, jellyfish, Portuguese men-of-war, and barnacle-covered rocks. Be alert for sudden storms and seek shelter during thunderstorms. Watch your step while exploring the forts and batteries. Go Apr.-Oct. for good weather and blooms, late Mar-mid-May and Sept. and Oct. for migrating birds. Busiest May-July, least crowded Jan. and Feb.

& Groceries & Gear: In the park: Fort Pickens campground store (1400 Fort Pickens Rd., tel. 850/934-2622).

 

FEES, HOURS & REGULATIONS

 

Entrance fee: $8 per vehicle, $3 for walk-ins. Florida or Mississippi state fishing license required. Primitive camping permit required (free, must apply in person) for Perdido Key (tel. 850/492-7278). No glass containers on beaches. No motor vehicles off roads. No metal detectors. No pets on beaches in Florida, in swimming area of Ship Island, on tour boats, and in historic structures or buildings. Leashed pets elsewhere. Don't feed or disturb wildlife. Seashore open daily 8-sunset. Fort Barrancas Visitor Center open Nov.-Feb., daily 8:30-3:45; Mar-Oct., daily 9:30-4:45. Fort Pickens Visitor Center open daily 8:30-4. Davis Bayou Visitor Center open Nov.-Feb., daily 8-4:30; Mar.-Oct., daily 8:30-5.

 

HOW TO GET THERE

 

Mississippi District: the offshore access to Ship Island is provided by concession boats from Gulfport, MS (Mar.-Oct). Private boats may dock near Ft. Massachusetts on W. Ship Island during the day. NPS-li-censed or private boats provide access to Horn, Petit Bois, Cat, and E. Ship islands. Follow the signs on U.S. 90 for the seashore to Davis Bayou, MS. Florida District, Johnson Beach (Perdido Key): take Rte. 292 southwest from Pensacola; for historic mainland forts and Naval Museum: use the main entrance of Pensacola Naval Air Station off Barrancas (Rte. 295); for Naval Live Oaks and the Fort Pickens and Santa Rosa areas: take U.S. 98 from downtown Pensacola across the Pensacola Bay Bridge. Closest airports: Florida District—Pensacola (20 mi), Mississippi District—Gulfport (30 mi).

Gulf Islands National Seashore on the map