Welcome to The Fort!

Welcome to Fort Matanzas! This Fort has so many different activities to offer some examples can be, spotting over 200 different bird species as well as great fishing spots along the beaches! So be sure to include your binoculars and fishing gear, when you come visit our beautiful park!

Construction on the Fort began in 1740 and was finally completed by 1742. The Fort was built to prevent enemies from their tactics like blockading the Matanzas inlet or using the inlet to sneak up on the backside (South) of St. Augustine. The Fort you see today is a recreation of the Fort that last stood on the island. The stone fort replaced a wooden watch tower that was attacked by pirates quite often, so they saw the need for something more durable. The Spanish built the Fort out of the same material they used to build the Castillo De San Marcos. They used a material called coquina. Coquina is a form of limestone filled with shells which is native to Florida! The material’s strength has proven worthy, as a cannon ball that were fired into the walls disappeared. That is because the wall almost eats the cannon ball. The air pockets help by softening the impact of damage done, and because of the air pockets there is little to no damage done at all.

Fort Matanzas offers more than just a history lesson though. From the beaches to the nature walk, down to the marsh trails. Each of these locations’ visitors can take amazing photos for their social media pages and brag about the National Parks. Visitors can also see amazing creatures while at the Fort, from ranger led bird walks to scooping out but of course not touching the turtle nests. We welcome those who want to learn and see birds in our parks by offering the bird walks along the marsh trails on Tuesday mornings!

Coming down to the Fort we do ask you stay off the sand dunes of our parks because our rangers are doing their best to preserve the dunes for sea turtle nesting grounds as well as the nesting grounds of our endangered species of least terns. These dunes are also home to our beach mice that are scattered throughout our park. It is very important in our mission to help preserve and conserve our public lands so not only you and the next generation can enjoy it, but so the wildlife can thrive as well. Also when you are leaving or entering be careful, you may find a wondering gopher turtle on the prowl.

When visiting the Fort you have two options on how to arrive. The first option is coming into our park and joining our rangers on the ferry across the river. The other route are for the ones seeking adventure. Across the bride of the park there is a parking lot for you to park and make a hike towards the Fort on Rattle Snake island.

So grab your friends and take a hike up to our National Monument! Don’t forget to ask the visitor center for your Jr. Ranger books to receive your very own Jr. Ranger Badge!

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