America’s southernmost Civil War fortress lies amongst the Florida Keys at the southern tip of Key West, 167 miles south of Miami. Pristine coastline, colorful coral reefs and gorgeous white sandy beaches greet guests throughout this part of the country and Fort Zachary Historic State Park is no exception.
This Florida state park features a Civil War-era fort, also known as Fort Taylor. It was originally built in 1845 (and named for President Zachary Taylor). Today this fortress boasts having the largest cache of Civil War era seacoast cannons in the country.
Guests enjoy exploring the fort and walking along the nature trails and beach in addition to swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, shell collecting, kayaking and fishing.
This day-use only state park has a lot to offer visitors – water activities, hiking trails, picnic areas with tables, grills and a cafe, a historic landmark to explore, reenactments, ranger led programs and a concession with beach rentals.
Here are some more activities that you can do during your visit to Fort Zachary Historic State Park:
Boating at Fort Zachary Historic State Park
Kayak or canoe along the beautiful clear waters inside Fort Zachary Historic State Park. A designated launch area is located at the east end of the beach for guests who bring their own kayaks, canoes or paddle boards. Boats are not allowed inside the swimming area.
Swimming at Fort Zachary Historic State Park
Swim, snorkel and scuba dive along the beautiful coral reefs at Fort Zachary Historic State Park. The crystal clear waters are shallow along the beach area making it ideal for beginner snorkelers and swimmers. The park’s concessionaire carries snorkeling equipment that may be purchased or rented.
The beach area, known locally as rocky beach, is all crisp white sand and pebbles. It’s recommended that guests wear water shoes to prevent injuries while walking along the beach and in the swimming areas.
Hiking at Fort Zachary Historic State Park
The park’s one trail, the Truman Beach Point Trail, is an easy 0.9 mile path across the beach to the 19th century fort. This trail provides visitors with a chance to stretch their legs and see more of nature and wildlife inside the park.
Biking at Fort Zachary Historic State Park
Bicycle throughout the park and along the trails inside Fort Zachary Historic State Park. Bicycling is a popular way to get around throughout the Florida Keys.
Fishing at Fort Zachary Historic State Park
Remember to bring your fishing poles, supplies and a Florida fishing license when you visit Fort Zachary Historic State Park. Fishing conditions are ideal along the Florida Keys and this state park has a perfect spot to fish (off of a rock jetty adjacent to the main shipping channel). Here you can catch snapper, tarpon, grouper and more.
Birding at Fort Zachary Historic State Park
Bird watching is popular throughout the Florida Keys, especially during the spring and fall migration periods. The tropical environment of lush hardwood hammocks and coastline provide nourishment and shelter for many bird species.
Fort Zachary Historic State Park is one of the stops along the Great Florida Birding Trail and an ideal spot to see warblers, egrets, herons, ibis, Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Red-eyed Vireos, Gray-cheeked Thrushes, Painted Buntings and Bahama Mockingbird.
Bring your binoculars and stop into the ranger station and pick up a bird list.
Nature and Wildlife at Fort Zachary Historic State Park
While exploring the fort, strolling along the beach or kayaking along the coastline you will see a variety of wildlife including birds and sea life.
Many of the animals that may be spotted throughout the park are unique to the Florida Keys and not found anywhere else. These include the Key deer, Key ringneck snake, Lower Keys marsh rabbit, silver rice rat, Bartram’s hairstreak, Florida Keys mole skink, Key Largo cotton mouse, Lower Keys striped mud turtle and the Schaus swallowtail butterfly.
Pets at Fort Zachary Historic State Park
Pets are allowed within Fort Zachary Historic State Park but must be kept on a hand held leash no longer than 6 feet. Pets are not allowed inside any park buildings, including the fort, or in the beach area.
Camping Near Fort Zachary Historic State Park
Nearby Bahia Honda State Park has campgrounds, cabins and a marina with overnight boat slips. The duplex style cabins feature full kitchens, 2 bedrooms and a full bath and space for up to 6 people. Each cabin also has a porch area and gorgeous views of the bay. The campgrounds have both primitive sites and modern sites with electric and water hookups.
This state park is located at 36850 Overseas Hwy in Big Pine Key 38 miles north of Fort Zachary Historic State Park.
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is located at 102601 Overseas Hwy in Key Largo, 100 miles north of Fort Zachary Historic State Park. This state park has modern campsites for RVs and tents, a primitive camping area and boat slips for those traveling on board their own vessels.
This park also features glass bottom boat tours, hiking trails, swimming, scuba diving, kayaking and fishing.
Fort Zachary Historic State Park
601 Howard England Way
Key West, FL 33040
Here is a short YouTube video showcasing the beach at Fort Zachary Historic State Park: