Friday, March 11, 2011

Gulf Islands National Seashore, Fort Pickens

Tuesday morning, at 10:30, we pulled out of Gulf State Park and headed East towards Pensacola to spend a week at Fort Pickens  on Gulf Islands National Seashore in Florida. Fort Pickens is part of the National Park Service and along with the campground, it includes the former military fort, defense batteries and a breathtakingly beautiful white quartz beach. Although the trip is less than 50 miles, it took a good hour and a half or more to get there. There were a couple of long bridges…


with a toll booth-$1.00 for both the motor home and the toad (towed  vehicle). What a deal! :) There was also the entrance booth to Gulf Islands National Seashore-$8 entrance fee per car but good for 7 days. Then there was the campground registration building. As we had reservations, it was a short and sweet registration including a campground map and directions to get there from here :)

(Although this may look like snow to some of you, I assure you it’s beautiful white sand!)


We pulled into the campground and followed the narrow road around to our site-C44. Oh oh. While the site was long enough, (I had made sure we’d fit when I made the reservation) the angle to back into it was very tight, especially because our neighbors across the way had their car parked at the end of their pads but right at the street line so there was no room to swing around and into the site without hitting their car. We unhooked the Jeep from the tow bar first. That’s when I discovered that I had left the Jeep running all the way here! I felt like an idiot. It is my job to position the Jeep for hookup and do the inside work to ready it to tow. Part of that includes putting the 4 wheel drive into neutral and making sure the steering wheel is freely moving and didn’t lock. Well, I did all those things. I also forgot to turn off the ignition. I doubt that’s a mistake I’ll make again…hopefully. I do learn my lessons :) It didn’t hurt the Jeep, but it sure did burn some of this pricey gas :)  Luckily, our new neighbors were home and moved their car  long enough for us to back into our spot. This park was built back in the 1970’s when I doubt they thought a 40’ RV would be common. So, while it is tight in some spots, I would never bypass this park due to size. It is totally worth it.

While our Wednesday was taken up by the stormy weather I talked about in my last post, Thursday and Friday were gorgeous and sunny. We spent both of those days walking the pristine, unspoiled beach and exploring the old fort.  IMGP2049 IMGP2055 IMGP2062 IMGP2029 IMGP2033 IMGP2034 IMGP2035 IMGP2040 IMGP2041

Fort Pickens was built in the 1820’s but never saw real combat until the Civil War. After the war it was abandoned until 1886 when it was used as a prison for Apache leader Geronimo and some of his men. The Apache’s were not locked up but given free rein to the entire island. Their families were even allowed to join them shortly thereafter. They soon became a tourist attraction with visitors taken to the island to see how they lived and they developed a trade in shells and handiworks they sold to the tourists. The fort underwent renovations over the years but after WW II, the fort was declared obsolete for defensive purposes. The National Park Service acquired it in 1971.

After a couple nice days of exploring, it was nice to be invited to share a campfire with some of the neighbors. Yup, this is a very nice life :)



  1. What an interesting place to stay ... it's going on our list of campgrounds to stay in when we start full-timing.

  2. Don't feel bad. We have towed with engine running too :) I think you have to do every "dumb" thing once to learn all the lessons. We love all those forts along the coast. We have toured several and We always learn something interesting when we do.

  3. Thanks for a great post. I've heard conflicting things about Gulf Islands national Seashore so I was glad to read and see how nice it is. Just went on my list.


  4. Gail and Rick, You make me want to hit the road on an adventure. What we're doing feels a little too much like work sometimes! Keep having fun!


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