Visiting Gulf Islands National Seashore During Spring Break

Prepare for your visit to Gulf Islands National Seashore, the nation’s most visited and expansive national seashore, which sees a surge in visitors from spring break through Labor Day. Here’s how you can make your visit smoother:

  • Aim for mid-week visits to avoid the weekend and holiday rush that leads to traffic jams.
  • Purchase your park pass online at www.recreation.gov in advance. This doesn’t secure parking but makes entering the park faster.
  • Try to get to the park before 10 am or plan your exit to avoid the sunset rush to escape the busiest times.
  • Download the National Park Service app and preload the Gulf Islands National Seashore for a wealth of information at your fingertips, useful even when offline.

Important Tips You Should Know

  • Stay vigilant of rip currents and make smart swimming choices, checking conditions through the National Weather Service. Observe beach flags at each entrance.
  • Leave your dogs at home as they’re not allowed on beaches or in forts.
  • The park operates on a first-come, first-served basis, and all visitors must show ID with their pass at the entrance.
  • Dress appropriately as nudity is not permitted, and glass containers are banned to ensure safety. Opt for refillable containers over Styrofoam or plastic.
  • Stay 200 feet away from designated water areas near piers and docks.
  • Shoreline fishing is allowed with a license, with a limit of two fishing devices per person.
  • The islands offer little shade, so bring water, sunscreen, and shoes to stay comfortable.
  • For a scenic route to Pensacola Beach, use the National Park’s Pensacola City Bay Ferry to Fort Pickens, allowing unlimited boarding for the day. For Ship Island, check Ship Island Excursions.
  • Large gatherings, pavilion rentals, research, or religious ceremonies require a permit obtained in advance.

Vehicle Guidelines

  • Respect the 25 mph speed limit during shorebird season across the Florida District.
  • Only park in designated lots; roadside parking is prohibited.
  • The park does not permit golf carts, UTVs, rollerblades, skateboards, hoverboards, or scooters.
  • Bikes and e-bikes are welcome on specific trails and roads.
  • Overnight parking is not allowed, and all day-use areas close at sunset.

Violations like speeding, unauthorized parking, fishing, or drone use will result in citations.

For inquiries, reservations, or reporting injured wildlife, use the provided contact information, including the Wildlife Reporting hotline and the official website for detailed FAQs and more about Gulf Islands National Seashore’s 160-mile stretch of natural beauty in Florida and Mississippi.

Disclaimer: This above news story is based on a press release from the National Park Service, which was issued on March 22, 2024. You can read the original release here.

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Feature image: nps.gov

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