2016 is the 100th birthday of the National Park Service. It’s a great reminder to get outdoors and celebrate the centennial by discovering a new park or monument. I’m sharing some photos taken at the Fort Matanzas National Monument. The Fort itself is located on Rattlesnake Island in the southern part of St. Augustine, Florida. In order to reach the Fort you take a ferry across the Mantanzas River from the visitor center.
Although there is no charge for the ferry or the Fort, you do need to pick up a ticket from the visitor center before you can board the ferry. Tickets are limited so I’d recommend that you pick up the tickets as soon as you arrive. The ferry runs every hour but while you wait you can watch a very short informational video on the history of the Fort, take a walk down the nature trail, or just enjoy the beach.
The nature trail is a short 1/2 mile but if you do take it you should still bring bug spray (natural of course!) as the mosquitos are quite aggressive. There is also have a picnic area so you can bring breakfast or lunch to eat while you are there.
The visit to the Fort on Rattlesnake Island only takes an hour. The ferry ride is around 15 minutes each way and you spend about 20 minutes on the island. A ranger provides a brief overview of the Fort and its history once you arrive and after that you are free to explore on your own.
The view of Matanzas Inlet is beautiful, even from the first level of the Fort.
It’s hard to imagine seven soldiers living inside this small space for a month at a time.
There is a ladder inside the fort that allows you to climb to the top of the Fort, where the view is even more stunning.
If you do visit Fort Matanzas, I’d recommend that you go in the morning. It opens at 9 a.m. Although the visitor center area is quite shady, Rattlesnake Island is not, and without any shade the heat can be brutal, especially mid-day.
And just in case you missed it, a visit to Fort Matanzas National Monument is free!
Now step away from your computer, put down that phone or tablet, and go outside and explore!