Location: Perdido Key, Florida
Webpage: National Park Service
General Description: Perdido Key Area of the Gulf Islands National Seashore is a fragile barrier island made up largely of sand held together by plants adapted to this harsh environment. Along with providing habitat for shore birds, small animals and nesting sea turtles, the grass beds of the sound are nursery grounds for 95% of all commercially harvested marine species. There are also multiple access to public beaches along the island, such as Rosamond Johnson Beach and the sites of Fort McRee and Battery 233.
1) In January, the beaches can be blustery and chilly even with the bright sunshine we experienced. Gauging by the size of the parking lot, the beaches would be crowded during the summer, but we saw only a handful of people while we were there.
2) The main beach area, known as the Rosamond Johnson Beach has an interesting history. Private Rosamond Johnson, Jr was killed on July 26, 1950 during the Korean Conflict. He was awarded the purple heart, posthumously, for carrying two wounded men to safety before being killed while going back for a third. He was the first African American killed in the conflict. This beach on Perdido Key was named after Private Johnson and was one of the few beaches open to African Americans until it was turned over to the National Park Service as part of the Gulf Island National Seashore.
3) There is a nice 0.5 mile boardwalk that meanders through the sand dunes on the leeward side of the island ending at a small brackish marsh. While we did not see many shore birds while we were there, due to the cold weather, it was a pleasant walk in the sunshine.
4) At the extreme eastern end of Perdido Key is the location of a large brick fort, Fort McRee, built in 1837 to protect the sea approaches into Pensacola along with Fort Pickens and Fort Barrancas. Unfortunately, this fort has been lost to the gulf over the years. There are suppose to be ruins of Battery 233, which is a much later third series fort that is often confused for Fort McRee. Since it is a long walk to the remains of the battery from where the road ends on the island, we decided not to investigate.