Just down the road — any road — from our Perdido Key campground resort, we find bounty. There is bounty in fresh local fish and produce, bounty in easy local culture and bounty in nature. One of these natural spots is Gulf Islands National Seashore, established in 1971. White quartz sand, tidal marshes, swirling pools, super blue water, shells, dolphins and historic spots make this national seashore a treasure of the Florida panhandle and Mississippi coast.
In the panhandle in Perdido Key, Gulf Islands National Seashore is bound by the Big Lagoon intracoastal waterway to the north and the Gulf of Mexico to the south. Long, large, slow barges carefully navigate the shallow waters of the intracoastal waterway, while tides hide and reveal hidden treasures from the Gulf. One main road, Johnson Beach Road, stretches the miles of narrow island in Perdido Key, only interrupted every so often by lettered entrances to either side of the island’s beaches. Two-thirds of the islands that make up this national park are underwater. (nps.gov)
Atlantic bottlenose dolphins play everywhere here and are the most common mammal found in the barrier islands. Four out of seven species of sea turtles, particularly the gopher tortoise, lay their eggs along the Gulf Islands National Seashore. Weather, predators, humans and artificial lighting make successful hatching difficult for turtles; only about one percent make it to the water. Sea turtles are still endangered species. Also endangered is the small beach mouse, which has lost much of its habitat to development, but also to hurricanes. Beautiful, abundant birds, such as pelicans, skimmers, gulls and warblers, call the seashore home. (nps.gov, Wikipedia)
Geronimo and other members from the Apache Nation were prisoners at famous Fort Pickens, part of historic Gulf Islands National Seashore. The white sand is pulverized quartz from the Appalachian Mountains, which travels via their mountainous rivers and creeks and later deposited by currents. The dunes are home to various vegetation, such as sea oats, grasses, vines and morning glories. And our first visit included observing a stranded cargo vessel that found itself stuck in a sand bar. Despite history, hurricane, incapacitated heavy barges and housing, Gulf Islands National Seashore is peaceful and beautiful. There is so much to see. We shall return as often as possible during our stay in the panhandle. (nps.gov, Wikipedia)
Florida islands are accessible by car, and there are lots of places to walk, sunbathe and shell. Mississippi islands are accessible only by boat. Camping and picnic areas are available. There are no Alabama islands included in the seashore. Costs include $7 per person or $15 per vehicle. An annual pass is $30. The park is open all year long. For more information, visits the National Park Service.