State National Parks of Florida
Where will your adventure lead you?
Biscayne National Park
Located just a few miles from the city of Miami, Biscayne is the largest marine park in the National Park System and preserves the diverse marine environment where the Atlantic Ocean meets Biscayne Bay. The park features a variety of plant and animal life both above and below the water's surface, including the longest stretch of mangrove forest remaining on Florida's east coast and part of the only living tropical coral reef system in the continental United States.
Everglades National Park
One of the largest wetlands in the world, this iconic "River of Grass" protects 1.5 million acres of subtropical wilderness in South Florida. Its rare mix of salt and fresh water provides critical habitat for a variety endangered plants and animals, it serves as one of the most significant corridors for migrating species, and it is home to the largest mangrove ecosystem in the Western hemisphere. Visitors can access this marshy wilderness in short hikes off of the main park road or explore the western coast of the park by paddling along the stunning 99-mile Wilderness Waterway Trail. Though they may feel like a world away, these 1.3 million acres are an easy drive from Miami.
Fort Caroline National Memorial
Settlers founded Fort Caroline in 1564 as one of the first French colonies in the United States. Spanish troops attacked the fort in 1565 and massacred the inhabitants, ending French colonization of the region. The Spanish occupied the site as San Mateo until 1569. Today, the site is managed as part of the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve. Though no one knows the original location of the fort, the current memorial on the banks of the St. Johns River in Jacksonville, Florida, was built near the place where French explorer René Goulaine de Laudonnière first landed his boat.
Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve
Just outside of downtown Jacksonville, this preserve protects 46,000 acres of wetlands, hardwood forests, and coastal dunes along with historic sites and relics from 6,000 years of human habitation. The site is named for and helps preserve the history of the 35 Native American chiefdoms that lived in the region and spoke the Timucua language. The site also contains the remains of a plantation with slave cabins, helping researchers better understand the culture and daily lives of the enslaved people who toiled there. The park also includes a historic beach founded during the Jim Crow era by Florida’s first African-American millionaire, a 1920s-era golf course, and a memorial to France's failed New World colony.
Gulf Islands National Seashore
The 12 separate units of this park protect a series of barrier islands off of the Gulf Coast and offer a little bit of everything, including snorkeling, fishing and bicycling — though the main draw is simply relaxing on the sparkling white sands. Hike the bayous and coastal forests on the Mississippi side and explore several impressive brick forts on the Florida side, including historic Civil War forts and a Spanish colonial structure dating back to 1797.
Castillo de San Marcos National Monument
This monument on the East Coast of Florida commemorates the fierce clashes between European powers over the spoils of the New World. St. Augustine, Florida, was the northernmost point of a vast Spanish empire that included Mexico, Central America and parts of South America. In the late 17th century, Spain built Castillo de San Marcos to defend the city against both pirates and British forces. The castle withstood an attack by the English in 1702 that left the rest of St. Augustine burned to the ground. Although the fortress was eventually claimed by England and later America via treaty, it was never taken by force. Today the bastion's history is told via weapons demonstrations, ranger talks and detailed museum exhibits.
Fort Matanzas National Monument
Fort Matanzas was built to protect St. Augustine from British attack via the Matanzas River, which was considered a strategic "backdoor" to the city. Twelve British ships were forced to retreat in a brief skirmish in 1742 as the fort was nearing completion.