10 Things to do at the Gulf Islands National Seashore: Mississippi Location

Want to visit a national park? Look no further than the Gulf Islands National Seashore. It stretches 160 miles along the northern Gulf Coast from Mississippi to Florida.

The Mississippi District of the National Seashore Park provides an array of opportunities for adventure. Depending on your preference, activities range from outdoor, indoor, and even guided tours from a park ranger. Check out our pick of the top 10 things to do at the Gulf Islands National Seashore: Mississippi Location.

Outdoor Activities

Bicycling

There’s just something about riding a bike on a scenic route. On the Live Oaks Bicycle Route, you can pedal 15.5 miles round-trip. The route will connect you to Ocean Springs at the Old Louisville and Nashville Train Depot.

Don’t forget to follow cyclist rules and follow the green and white bike-route signs on the right side of the street. Maps are available at the William M. Colmer Visitor Center.

Bird Watching

Did you know that there are over 280 different species of birds that have been spotted at the park? Migrating birds stop here to rest and feed before continuing on their own route. From the Great Blue Heron to the Snowy Plover, birds of all different shapes and sizes can be seen here. Grab your camera and binoculars and lookout for these beautiful animals!

Boating

Looking at a body of water is one thing, but actually being on it is a whole new adventure! In Mississippi, you can hop on a boat and check out the barrier islands nearby. Keep in mind of the boating rules and regulations that must be followed.  

Camping

Of course, we couldn’t leave out camping! There are several options for camping at the park. Options are available whether you like the convenience and a sense of community at a campground, or if you prefer the serenity of taking in the beauty of nature in solitude.

At the Campground

Davis Bayou Campground: Near Ocean Springs, MS

  • Facilities – flush toilets, drinking water and a dump station
  • Natural features – live oaks and pines along with a saltwater marsh
  • Recreation – fishing, boating, biking, bird watching, picnicking & ranger – led programs
  • Activities – hiking, fishing, camping, boating
  • Amenities – boat ramp, water hookup, picnic table, clothes line, grills/fire ring, quiet area, electricity hookup, accessibility, accessible occupant message, satellite tv access, fire pit, privacy, BBQ
  • Nearby Attractions – barrier islands (Horn, Petit Bois, East Ship and West Ship Islands) are accessible by boat only

Backcountry Camping

  • Boat-In Camping is allowed in Mississippi on the barrier islands of Petit Bois, West Petit Bois, Horn Islands and the National Park Service owned portion of Cat Island. Please follow the basic rules if you are planning on using a boat in these areas.

Dark Night Skies

Take some time to sit and enjoy all that comes with the night sky. From stargazing to watching nocturnal animals be active, there is so much to capture your attention just in the night!

Several species such as owls, bats, deer, bobcats, and fireflies rely on the night sky to survive. The Gulf Islands National Seashore lists recommendations for enjoying the night sky while still preserving it for all of its inhabitants.

Fishing

For those who love to fish, the park offers pier fishing at the Davis Bayou Area. If you are wanting to venture out on the water, charter boat operators licensed with the National Park Service are authorized to take visitors to seashore waters for fishing.

 The park boundaries extend one mile from the shore around Petit Bois, Horn and Ship Islands.

Hiking

The Gulf Islands National Seashore offers several to ways to hike to see all its scenic views. Either stay on the bayou side or hop on a boat and head over to the barrier islands to hike there!

Davis Bayou Area

  • Nature’s Way Trail (0.5 mile): This trail gives hikers the chance to view the bayou.
  • Davis Bayou Trail (1 mile): This short hike will take you from the visitor center to the picnic area.
  • Civilian Conservation Corps Spur (0.25 mile): Take this short trail for another view of the bayou.

On the Islands

  • Cat Island – by boat only
  • Horn Island – by boat only
  • Petit Bois Island – by boat only
  • West Petit Bois Island – by boat only
  • Ship Island – ferry runs March – October

Swimming

Make a splash! During the warmer months, get out in the water. You can swim at your own risk at any location, but a lifeguard is on duty at Ship Island from May – August.

Indoor Activities

Due to COVID-19, the visitor center at the Davis Bayou Area is temporarily closed. Once the center reopens, there will be many activities to take part in!

  • William M. Colmer Visitor Center – check out indoor exhibits about the shore and islands.

Park Ranger-Led Tours

Guided tours are an awesome way to get the inside scoop on the area! Check out their event calendar to see which event you want to try first!

Sunset at Gulf Islands National Seashore: Mississippi Location

Who says you have to go far for your next outdoor adventure? We cannot wait to hear about your time at the Gulf Islands National Seashore or wherever else you decide to go!

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