Leaving Panacea, Florida, very early in the morning (really early....we were on the road by 7:00 a.m.) afforded the opportunity to arrive at Gulf Islands National Seashore just before noon, which was a good thing. We did not have reservations and check out and check in time at the park is 12:00, so timing was everything. We really lucked out and were able to secure a space for seven days. A long line formed behind us soon after we arrived. Wow! Seven days of white sandy beaches! I'm always at home when near beaches and there are miles and miles and miles of white sandy, clean, shoreline looking towards the Gulf of Mexico on one side and Pensacola Bay on the other to explore and enjoy.
Gulf Islands National Seashore includes 12 units and stretches nearly 160 miles along the Gulf of Mexico from Mississippi to the Florida Panhandle. Our campsite was located on Santa Rosa Island in the Fort Pickens unit across the Bay from Pensacola and Gulf Breeze. The beaches are very,very white. I think I read that the white sandy beaches are made of quartz which washed down from the Appalachian Mountains during the glacial age. They are the same brilliant white as the White Sands at White Sands National Park in New Mexico.
This area is often referred to as the Emerald Coast. Looking toward the Gulf from near our campsite:
Fort Pickens is the largest of four forts build to defend Pensacola Bay and was a short walk/bicycle ride from out site. Ranger led tours are offered every day and we participated in the well informed tour. Below is the entrance to the visitor center and fort.
We walked the white sandy beaches and watched the beautiful sunsets. We had several nice days of weather, but then it turned really, really cold...down in the mid twenties one night and was pretty windy, but that didn't stop us from walking and riding our bikes. I guess winter finally caught up with us.
During our stay we did explore two other units of Gulf Islands National Seashore which included Fort Barrancas located on the Pensacola Navy Base and the Naval Live Oaks Area, and I'll comment on those in another blog.