Gulf Islands National Seashore

The Gulf Islands National Seashore is a destination you won't want to miss when visiting Mississippi. The varied and beautiful landscape includes several bayous, great Mississippi beaches, historical forts, gleaming waters and many possibilities for outdoor recreation. With the Gulf National Park open all through the year tides, hurricanes, storms and even gentle breezes continuously reshape the diverse landscape.

One of the many things to do while visiting the Gulf Islands National Seashore is touring the historical forts. Dating back almost 150 years in history the seashore has experienced its share of settlements where anchorages at places like Ship Island exemplify why the area has been so popular. Some of the most intriguing forts include Fort Barrancas, Fort Massachusetts and Fort Pickens which have all experienced the events of the Civil War.

If you're hoping for lodging in the Gulf Islands visitors are in luck. The Davis Bayous Campground is a great place to stay in Ocean Springs. Though the camping is quite primitive at the Gulf National Park the scenery is more than enough to make up for any amenities you may have to go without! Available on a first-come-first-served basis a campsite for lodging in the Gulf Islands can be had for $16.00 a night.

Every site at Davis Bayou Campground has flush toilets, electric hook-ups, water and a dump station. There is also a central restroom area where showers are provided. RV's are also welcome for lodging in the Gulf Islands. Lodging in the Gulf Islands is also available at Petit Bois, East Ship Islands and Cat Island.

Mississippi weather along the Gulf Islands National Seashore is warm and sunny throughout much of the year. Afternoon thunderstorms and humid weather are prevalent between June and September so make sure to take along some trusty rain gear for good measure! Note that hurricane season begins in June and ends around the end of November.

Almost 80% of the Gulf National Park is land that is submerged under water and chock full of an assortment of marine life. Varied plants and animals thrive in the marshes that collect rainwater. Migrating and domestic birds can be seen teeming around the live oak forests found in the area.

Wealthy in natural resources the Gulf Islands National Seashore encompasses scenic walking and hiking trails, abundant coastal marshes and stunning white sand beaches where your feet are the only transportation you'll need to explore the island's coastline.

Listed as a National Watchable Wildlife Area the Gulf Islands National Seashore is home to a diverse array of habitats that offer food and nesting areas for an assortment of wildlife. Look closely when near the offshore islands, near the water or right on the mainland for a chance to spot interesting mammals, amphibians and reptiles in their natural habitats. Look out for amphibians after it rains or in the evening for the best time to see them. The afternoons bring out the reptiles who enjoy basking on warm rocks in the sunshine. Evening hours and early morning are feeding times and the best time to spot various mammals.

When planning a visit note that the Davis Bayou area is open to visitors from 6:00am to 10:00pm, the Visitor center is open from 8:30am to 4:30pm and the Visitor Center Grounds are open from 8:00am to sunset. You can explore Fort Massachusetts from 10:00am to 4:30pm during the summer and 10:00am to 2:00pm in the spring and fall. Entrance fees to the park vary but a regular visit from1 to 7 days is $3.00 and per vehicle for the same length is $8.00. The Davis Bayou Boat Launch is $3.00 per day. Gulf Islands National Seashore offers an annual pass for $25.00 but be sure to confirm all rates before visiting.

When you get to the Gulf National Park the amount of activities available will keep you busy! Snorkeling, swimming, great Mississippi fishing, boating, bird watching, cycling and camping are all there for your pleasure. Get away from the noisy Mississippi casinos and plant yourself among the striking beauty of Gulf National Park.

Top image: Mississippi Division of Tourism

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