Fort De Soto Park

Fort De Soto Park 3500 Pinellas Bayway South
Tierra Verde, Florida 33715 United States
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Bay Pier closed for replacement

Bay Pier at Fort De Soto Park will be closed to the public through Winter 2023 as Pinellas County completes the Bay Pier Replacement Project. Parking will be reduced in this area due to construction. The Egmont Key ferry launch has been temporarily relocated to the boat ramp at the north end of the park. Funding for this project is provided by the Federal Transit Authority and the Penny for Pinellas. For more information, visit the project page.

Mobile parking now offered at Fort De Soto

Park and boat ramp patrons may now use their mobile phones to make convenient parking payments at most parks and boat ramps using the Flowbird mobile parking app. This upgrade will replace cash transactions at the front entrance booth at Fort De Soto and alleviate traffic entering the park. Learn more

Whether you are sitting on the beach or kayaking near the still water’s edge at Fort De Soto, you find yourself absorbed in the abundance of natural beauty as far as the eye can see. The complexity of the ecology is not immediately apparent, but the park offers the greatest diversity of systems just about anywhere. Emerging from the wealth of bird life, sea life, wildlife and plant life is the majestic tapestry called Fort De Soto.

The largest park within the Pinellas County Park System, Fort De Soto park consists of 1,136 acres made up of five interconnected islands (keys). These keys are home to beach plants, mangroves, wetlands, palm hammocks, hardwoods and scores of native plants. Each of these species plays a vital role in the preservation and protection of the natural environment.

Another amazing example of the importance of the park’s natural ecosystems is the more than 328 species of birds that ornithologists have documents over a 60-year span. New species are added every year. The beach also provides refuge to the loggerhead sea turtle, which nests between April and September.

Fort De Soto was named America’s Top Beach for 2009 by Tripadvisor, the world’s largest online travel community. In 2005, “Dr. Beach” named Fort De Soto the nation’s No. 1 Beach.

Annual park attendance averages more than 2.7 million visitors.

Photos

People enjoy blue skies at the beach

Amenities

  • Historic fort guide
  • Over 7 miles of waterfront, includes almost three miles of beautiful white sandy beach.
  • 800-foot-long boat launching facility with eleven floating docks.
  • Camping – 238-site family camping area with facilities
  • Diagram
  • Primitive youth camping area for organized youth groups
  • 15 picnic shelters
  • Rest rooms – diagram with locations
  • Playgrounds
  • Multipurpose trail – seven miles of paved trail connecting North Beach, East Beach, the boat ramp and the camping area. No motorized vehicles allowed.
  • Two large swim centers including a food concession area located at the North Beach Swim Center.
  • Two fishing piers – each pier has a food and bait concession – Gulf & Bay Pier Hours: 7 a.m. – sunset.
  • Fishing license is required throughout the park, including fishing piers.
  • Ferry service to Egmont Key
  • Ferry service to Shell Key
  • Concession/snack bar/souvenir shop
  • Quartermaster Museum
  • 6.8 mile, 12-foot-wide asphalt recreation trail connects the campground with the North and East Beach Swim Centers and the historic fort.
  • 2.25-mile recreational canoe trail.
  • 1-mile nature trail in the Arrowhead Picnic area, and a 3/4 mile nature trail in the Soldiers’ Hole area provides a glimpse of some the native fauna and flora.
  • 2,200 foot Barrier-Free Nature Trail is a self-guided interpretive trail providing access to nature for all visitors to Fort De Soto Park, regardless of their physical abilities.
  • Dog park – Please review dog park rules. Fort De Soto has the only dog park where dogs are allowed on the beach in a designated area. There are also 2 fenced-in areas near the beach for large and small dogs with water stations (beach entrance is at the far southwest corner of dog park).
Fort De Soto beach and sea oats

Hours

Open 7 days a week, 7 a.m. to sunset

Road Closures

Upcoming Road Closures Due to Permitted Special Events

*All roads will be open by 9 a.m.

DateEventOrganizer
11/20/2022Suncoast Tri-DuathlonThunderbolt Multisports

History

The park property was first purchased from the federal government in 1938 for $12,500. In 1941 the property was sold back to the federal government for $18,404 to be used as a gunnery and bombing range during World War II. The property was repurchased from the United States in 1948 for $26,500.

The 12-inch mortar battery, located at the fort for which the park was named, was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. Adding to the historical interest at Fort De Soto, two British breech-loading, rapid-fire rifles of 1890 vintage were installed in March 1982. Markers showing the original building locations and a Quartermaster Storehouse Museum add to the park’s historic interest.