Fort Pickens Campground is situated on Santa Rosa Island, a part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore south of Pensacola and Gulf Breeze, Florida. Visitors (who might be looking for camping near New Orleans) enjoy the seashore for its great recreational activities, historic sites and unique white sand beaches.
Many visitors young and old come to Fort Pickens to enjoy its scenic location on the beach. The white sands of Santa Rosa Island are the perfect place for a long walk or an afternoon of building sandcastles. The warm ocean waters are great for swimming and snorkeling.
Fishermen will find a pier just a short distance from the picnic pavilions. It can be used by visitors without a Florida fishing license. Many hiking trails through the sand dunes provide beautiful views and hours of exploration.
Historic Fort Pickens, a pentagonal fort built to defend Pensacola Bay in 1834, is just 1 mile from the campground. The structure was fortified after the War of 1812 and was one of four forts in the South never occupied by Confederates during the Civil War.
This large campground is open for reservations year-round. It contains 137 family sites with electric and water hookups, as well as 41 non-electric tent sites. A group site with water hookup is also available. Amenities include flush toilets, showers, drinking water and a dump station. There are no boat ramps in the Fort Pickens area.
The campground is located on a barrier island between the Gulf of Mexico and Pensacola Bay. Groves of live oak trees are scattered across the island, providing shelter for resident and migrating bird populations, as well as shade for park visitors.
The Gulf Islands National Seashore is home to sparkling blue waters, white beaches and coastal marshes. However, more than 80% of the national park is underwater, as it's a vital protective habitat to marine life.
The campground is a short distance from restaurants and beach nightlife, downtown Pensacola, the Pensacola Naval Air Station and Naval Aviation Museum, the Pensacola Lighthouse and other historic sites. Campsites are within 1/4 mile of the beaches of the Emerald Coast of the Gulf of Mexico and Pensacola Bay.
ADA Access: N
Easy navigation around sites, some areas are mushy where water settles but it’s a barrier island so it’s expected. Best shower units I’ve ever used! There’s even a dishwashing station! So convenient! There’s a small visitors center of some sort by the dumpsters at the entrance/exit that sells ice during business hours. Good thing because civilization is about 6 or 7 miles away, so be prepared when you cross that bridge to get to the island and then traveling to the end will make you feel more isolated (in a great way) therefore please get everything you need in one trip! GREAT SAND ON THE BEACH! I can only explain it as “sugary”! No courseness to it at all, all beautiful and white.
Beautiful location. easy access to beach. Showers could be cleaner. two out of five were out of order. sites are nice.
An amazing piece of America. The barrier island full of wildlife. Hiking trails through out the sites. Short eall to the beach or bay.The water is perfect blue green. The sand is soft. Large RV camping areas, tents as well. Not a lot of trees so bring shade. You need to make reservations several months in advance.
We have been camping here for six years and have always loved it. Some of the interior sites flood when it rains, so choose wisely as there is a good chance it will rain. This year they separated tent sites from RV sites and removed water and electric from the tent sites. There is still good access to water faucets, so not a huge deal. Our biggest annoyance this year was that they got reLly fussy about hanging hammocks from trees. We had purposefully picked a site with good trees so that was a bit frustrating. Also, the camp store has been closed down so you have to leave the park to get ice. Be sure you bring whatever you need with you. But they have clean bathrooms and the beach access is close. And since the beach there is really only campers it has never been very crowded.
Rain rain and more rain. 7 inches in 36 hours. Loop E was small short sites. Could not park at site. Bath house was nice.
Fort Pickens Campground sits on a peninsula of sandy land that lies between the Gulf of Mexico and Pensacola Bay so you know this place is bound to be beautiful. The campground is part of Gulf Islands National Seashore and has gorgeous white sandy beaches. There are lots of things to keep you busy in this park besides sitting on the beach or playing in the clear blue water. There are plenty of hiking/mountain biking trails which are part of the Florida National Scenic Trail. The shallow waters in the bay are great for surf fishing and kayaking and there are many access points. The park has a nice museum that describes the history of the fort and impacts of hurricanes (especially Ivan which destroyed the area). Ranger-led tours occur during the year and are very fun and informative. We went on a full moon night hike where the ranger talk focused on astrology and how moon phases impact some animals. Many parts of the fort and old batteries are open and available for exploring. Climbing on top of some of these areas offers spectacular views of the bay and gulf.
The campground is separated into two sections that make up five loops containing 180 sites. Campsites have paved driveways and grassy/sandy patios with 50/30/20 amp electric and water (but no sewer). There are picnic tables and fire pits at each site. Bathroom/shower buildings are scattered throughout the loops and were cleaned daily by volunteers. These buildings are heated which was much appreciated during the cold weather we experienced when camped here. Reservations can be made online (and should be made early if you plan on coming during the busy spring and summer seasons). It is best to check the park’s website before your visit because sometimes they have to close the road to the campground due to sand and water on the roads. We prefer to stay in Loop A because there are way fewer sites in that section and you don’t get the feeling of being crowded like in Loops B – E. There is also more shade in Loop A which is very welcomed in the summer. The campground is about 10 miles from the nearest convenient store or restaurant so it is best to stock up on groceries before you come. There is a camp store that has a wide selection of food items, souvenirs, baits, and beach supplies.
Campsites are a short ¼ mile from the gorgeous beaches. Just before entering the park is a great seafood restaurant called Peg Leg Pete’s. Venturing into Pensacola you will find an amazing seafood market called Joe Patti’s, the Pensacola Bay Brewery, and the Naval Aviation Museum (which is free), the Pensacola Lighthouse, a minor league baseball team, and other interesting historic sites and attractions. If you are there at a time when the Navy’s Blue Angels are flying, you will see them directly overhead and it’s a great sight to see.
I tested the Renogy E. Lumen Solar Powered Flashlight out at Fort Pickens which can get pretty dark at night. The campground is far removed from any city lights as it is 10 miles out of town on a skinny peninsula of land and this item came in handy walking around the campground at night and in the early morning.
This is a super bright LED solar powered rechargeable flashlight that has a ton of features packed into this light device. There are five light settings on this flashlight – the 3-Watt LED headlight has a high beam, low beam, and strobe and if you hold down the on/off button it cycles over to a 2-Watt LED side white light which can be set on high or low. There is also a red strobe side light with two settings but both are strobes. It would be nice if there was a solid red light feature. The headlight is powerful providing light up to 200 meters away. While the flashlight can be charged by solar it also has a USB charging option. Here are some more of the features of this flashlight that is compact and also functions as a multi-tool:
- 2000mAh lithium-ion battery with charge level indicators. I left the flashlight in the direct sun for a couple of hours and it had ample charge when I used it later that night. They advertise that it will hold seven hours of charge.
- Super strong side magnet so you can mount it where you want and it will remain in place. I put it on the side of my car and it held fine.
- Heavy duty aluminum construction and water resistant which makes it great for taking with you in your canoe or kayak.
- Multiple emergency features such as an alloy glass-shattering hammer and seatbelt cutter to help you escape from a vehicle. The seatbelt cutter is well protected so you won’t accidentally cut yourself.
- Compass for helping you navigate. The compass is pretty small and is just divided into N, E, S, and W and does not have degrees so it will help in general navigation but not specific direction.
- USB input/output cable is a great feature that allows you to charge the flashlight or small electronic devices like your phone or tablet. I used the USB cable to charge my phone and the flashlight had good charging power.
- 200 lumens for the high beam flashlight which provides a powerful light that illuminates up to 200 meters away. The side white light has 150 lumens and is great to put on a picnic table while setting up your campsite in the dark or for reading at night.
- The lightweight, compact design (10.9 ounces and measures under 7 ½ inches long) is perfect for storing it in your car or stuffing it in your backpack but a little too long and heavy to keep in your jacket or pants pocket.
The light does come with an instruction manual but the print is very small and I had trouble reading it even with reading glasses on. This flashlight retails for around $25 and I think it is well worth the price. The fact that it is solar (and has a USB charging port) means no more having to buy batteries. I also like the USB port which will charge small electronic devices like phones and tablets. This would make a great gift for anyone who likes to camp or just needs a really good flashlight around their house or in their car.
Click here for my video review.
I was a camp host there for 3 months and it is the most beautiful place. The barrier island between the Pensacola Sound and the Gulf of Mexico and it's incredible. I saw sea turtles daily, dolphins and so many other beautiful animals and the best part is that it's a protected island allowing all the animals to be free and safe. The Fort itself is really cool and The water is amazing and so is the campground. I highly recommend going it's absolutely amazing.
We camped for a weekend near the beach. Getting into the park is a little long. The entrance to the park is long and the speed limit low. It wasn’t bad, but it’s good to know.
The camping spots are nice with a good amount of space in between them. The shower houses were nice too and we used the dump stations.
The beaches are beautiful. There are boardwalks to get you to the beach and it was right across the road from the campgrounds. This was one of he reasons we can and it was so worth it. The beach was great!
We drove through the historic fort as well and it was nice.
The area was nice and we will definitely return!
clean, nice campground. bathrooms were convenient and they were working on new ones.
Besides touring the spectacular fort. This campground has a lot to offer w the beautiful FL beach only a walk away.. Nice facilities and store also.