Ecological and Historic Preserve
Nestled between northeast Florida's lower St. Johns and Nassau Rivers, the 46,000 acre Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve was established in 1988 to protect the natural resources of one of the last unspoiled coastal wetlands on the Atlantic Coast and to preserve historic and prehistoric sites within the area. The estuarine ecosystem within the Preserve includes salt marsh, coastal dunes, hardwood hammock, as well as salt, fresh, and brackish waters, all rich in native vegetation and animal life.
The Preserve, site of one of the first attempts (in 1564) by Europeans to establish a permanent colony in North America, was inhabited by the Timucuan people for more than four thousand years before the arrival of the first Europeans, and it has seen more than four centuries of exploration, colonization, agriculture, and commercial exploitation under the flags of France, Spain, England, the Confederacy, and the United States.
Approximately 75% of the preserve's 46,000 acres are open water or salt marsh. The National Park Service currently owns about 7,500 acres with the remainder of preserve lands owned by State, Federal, and Local government agencies and private individuals and corporations. The National Park Service operates visitor facilities at Kingsley Plantation, Fort Caroline National Memorial, the Theodore Roosevelt Area, the Ribault Column, and Spanish Pond. The recently acquired Cedar Point Area is open with limited facilities at present. Visitor Centers are located at both Kingsley Plantation and Fort Caroline National Memorial.
Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve 13165 Mount Pleasant Road Jacksonville, Florida 32225
(904) 641-7155; Information (Fort Caroline NMem visitor center)
(904) 251-3537; Kingsley Plantation
(904) 221-5568; Administrative Offices
OPERATING HOURS, SEASONS:
Daily, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; closed December 25.
CLIMATE, RECOMMENDED CLOTHING:
Summers are hot and humid with frequent afternoon thunderstorms. In winter, freezing temperatures are infrequent with cool, damp, and windy conditions common. Light, loose fitting clothing is recommended in Spring, Summer, and Fall; layered clothing is recommended for Winter. Persons planning to hike the trails should wear good walking shoes. Biting insects are common all year and are especially heavy from late April through early June.
The preserve is in the northeast portion of Jacksonville (Duval County), Florida. Please refer to the Timucuan Preserve Visitors Guide for directions to each park area.
Jacksonville International Airport is northwest of the park. Jacksonville is served by Amtrak and Greyhound Bus lines. Personal or rental vehicles are required to reach park areas.
FEES, COSTS, RATES:
All normal park activities are free. Golden Age ($10.00) and Golden Access (Free) passports are available. Some special park uses may require a fee.
Special Note on the Federal Recreational Fee Demonstration Program
Admission to the Fort Caroline National Memorial and the other sites of the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve is free. The Timucuan Preserve, however, does benefit from fees collected at other National Park Service locations under the Federal Recreational Fee Demonstration Program. This program, authorized by Congress in 1997, allows the Department of the Interior to charge fees, on a test basis, at selected National Park Service locations. Although the Timucuan Preserve does not charge an admission fee, the Preserve benefits from the Fee demonstration Program by sharing a portion of the fees collected at sites which do charge admission.
One of the projects at the Timucuan Preserve funded through the Federal Recreational Fee Demonstration Program provides for the mapping of vegetation, animal life, and soil characteristics in the species-rich transitional marsh between fresh and saline waters. Data collected will include a plant survey, an animal inventory including invertebrates, birds, fish, mammals, and reptiles, as well as measurements of soil density, soil salinity, and tidal amplitude. Study results will assist park managers in the evaluation of proposed dredge and fill operations, and in decisions on water management and habitat preservation issues.
Another project funded through the Fee Demonstration Program is the construction of a new observation platform at the Theodore Roosevelt Area. The new observation platform will provide visitors, including hikers, birders, and photographers, with a spectacular view of the salt marsh and tidal creeks surrounding Round Marsh.
FACILITIES AND OPPORTUNITIES:
there are Visitor Centers at Kingsley Plantation and at Fort Caroline National Memorial. Please refer to the Timucuan Preserve Visitors Guide for detailed information on each area of the Timucuan Preserve.
Lodging and camping facilities
None in the park. A variety of facilities are available in or near Jacksonville. Nearest camping is at Little Talbot Island State Park and Huguenot Memorial Park operated by the City of Jacksonville.
Restaurants, fast food, convenience stores, and grocery stores are located near the park.
A bookstore, operated by Eastern National, is located in the Visitor Center at Kingsley Plantation. More than 80 titles or theme related items are available. They include Florida history, slavery and related topics, area guidebooks, children's titles, NPS publications, maps and interpretive objects. A bookstore operated by Eastern National is also located at the Ft. Caroline National Memorial.
Volunteer opportunities exist, both at Fort Caroline and at Kingsley Plantation. Volunteers assist in the operation of the visitor centers, perform trail maintenance, and participate in administrative activities.
Volunteers living in the local area often work several hours each week. Volunteers able to commit to full-time work for a period of several weeks up to a maximum of 90 days may have the opportunity to make use of the full hookup concrete RV pad at Fort Caroline, or the limited dormitory housing at the Timucuan Preserve's Kingsley Plantation.
All prospective volunteers must apply to the National Park Service Volunteer in Parks (VIP) program. Successful applicants to the VIP program are scheduled, in advance, in accordance with park needs and space availability. For specific information on the VIP program at Fort Caroline and the Timucuan Preserve, contact the VIP coordinator at (904) 641-7155. For additional information on the National Park Service Volunteer in Parks program, or to obtain an electronic copy of the VIP application, you may visit the NPS Volunteer in Parks area on the World Wide Web.
The Kingsley Plantation is an historic site with maintained grounds and historic structures. The parking area is centrally located. The exhibit areas in the planter's house and kitchen house are reached via a wheelchair-accessible pathway and ramp. The slave quarters have a separate parking area and are generally accessible to all visitors, however, inclement weather may make mobility difficult in some places. The rest rooms are located near the planter's house with the path and facilities fully accessible.
The Theodore Roosevelt and Cedar Point areas are undeveloped areas with sand trails. Accessibility is limited.
RECOMMENDED ACTIVITIES/PARK USE:
Learning about the history of the area and observing the natural environment are the most common uses of the Preserve.
Kingsley Plantation and nearby Fort Caroline National Memorial offer visitor centers and historical information.
The Theodore Roosevelt and Cedar Point areas offer easy access into the north Florida natural environment for hiking, bird watching, nature observation, and photography.
Boating and Fishing
Much of the Preserve is water and wetlands. Boat access provides a very different perspective. There is a primitive boat ramp at the Cedar Point Area. Private and municipal boat launches are in and around the Preserve. Fishing from boats is permitted throughout the Preserve. Fishing from shore is permitted at the Cedar Point Area. At the Theodore Roosevelt Area, shore fishing is permitted only at Round Marsh. More information can be obtained by calling or visiting Kingsley Plantation or Fort Caroline National Memorial. Adherence to Federal and State regulations is required; refer to the section on reservations and permits, below.
Educational Groups Reservations for educational groups are taken in advance and are made on a first call basis. Reservations should be made as early as possible.
Special Uses Written requests for special park uses should
be made at least one month in advance. Filming permits are
arranged on an individual basis. For further information, including fee schedules, please call park offices.
Boating and Fishing All Federal and State boating and fishing regulations and licensing requirements apply to those activities, where permitted, within the Preserve.
BASIC VISIT RECOMMENDATIONS:
Plan on two hours to see the buildings and exhibits at Kingsley Plantation. Refer to the Fort Caroline National Memorial web page for visit recommendations there. Time devoted to hiking, boating, fishing, and other outdoor activities is at the discretion of the visitor.
SPECIAL EVENTS, PROGRAMS:
The annual Heritage Celebration, an event which includes performances, living history, and lectures about the cultural history of the plantation, is held at Kingsley Plantation in October of each year. Contact the Kingsley Plantation Visitors Center at (904) 251-3537 for details.
Contact the Fort Caroline National Memorial Visitors Center at (904) 641-7155 for information on special events at that location.
The historic structures at Kingsley Plantation have been visited by thousands of people since the site was opened to the public, first as a State of Florida historic site and now as a National Park Service area. The primary impact has been to the tabby slave houses. Tabby is a poured concrete-like material made of oyster shell lime, sand, and water. The 160-year old structures have begun to erode from natural forces. Deterioration of the structures is accelerated when touched. These structures are considered the most significant physical resource at the site. Visitors are encouraged to view these historic structures but please do not touch or damage them in any way.
NEARBY VISITOR ATTRACTIONS:
Fort Caroline and the Timucuan Preserve are located within the Golden Crescent, an area running along the Atlantic Coast from Savannah to Cape Canaveral, and stretching inland toward Tallahassee. The area is rich in history and prehistory, by having been inhabited by Native Americans for thousands of years, and then by witnessing many of the earliest encounters among Europeans, Africans, and the native inhabitants. Additional Information can be found on the Golden Crescent home page.
Fort Caroline National Memorial is one of the sites featured in Along the Georgia Florida Coast , a travel itinerary from the National Register of Historic Places that explores America's past through visits to historic places.
National Park Service Sites
Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, a seventeenth century Spanish fortress, is located at Saint Augustine, some 40 miles south of the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve. Saint Augustine, settled in 1565, is the oldest permanent European settlement in the continental United States.
The State of Florida operates State Parks on Big Talbot Island and Little Talbot Island, two sea islands unique to northeast Florida. Fort Clinch, a nineteenth century fort at nearby Fernandina Beach is also a State Park. The Fort George State Cultural Site is nearby.
Jacksonville Parks, Museums, and the Jacksonville Zoo
The City of Jacksonville operates a network of parks throughout the area. Two oceanfront parks, Hugenot Memorial Park, and Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park, offer camping. Jacksonville offers a series of nature programs, suitable for different age groups, under the city's Nature Scope program. Other Jacksonville area attractions include Jacksonville Zoological Gardens, theMuseum of Science and History, the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens , and the Jacksonville Museum of Contemporary Art. The Clara White Mission, located in the century-old former Globe Theater Building in downtown Jacksonville, houses a museum which offers a glimpse into victorian era Jacksonville and a wealth of information on the career of Jacksonville native Eartha White, the nationally renowned humanitarian. The museum is open daily, by appointment; telephone (904) 354-4162.
Information on area beaches can be found by linking to the web sites of the Florida State Parks and City of Jacksonville Parks mentioned above. Additional information on area beaches can be found at the Jacksonville Ocean Beaches web site.
Write: Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve; 13165 Mount Pleasant Road; Jacksonville, Florida 32225; or call (904) 641-7155 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time, daily.