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tall grass blowing in the wind at Tarkiln Bayou Preserve State Park

If you are the type of person who visits state parks in Florida for the chance to see rare and endangered animal and plant species, then you should head over towards Pensacola.

Just 10 miles from it lies the magnificent Tarkiln Bayou Preserve State Park. Covering a distance of 4,290-acres, the park is renowned for being home to the white-topped pitcher plant.

Only found on the Gulf Coast between the Mississippi and Apalachicola rivers, it attracts botany lovers from all over the USA.

For those into views, an ADA accessible boardwalk also provides exceptional vistas of the stunning Tarkiln Bayou.

During the day visitors can hike across to Perdido Bay and may even spot alligator snapping turtles along the way.

Picnicking, birding and geo seeking are other well practiced activities at this pet friendly park. Sadly there are no camping options available. However, there are plenty of accommodation options and campgrounds within easy driving distance of it.

boardwalk through the woods at Tarkiln Bayou Preserve State Park


The preserve gives visitors the chance to immerse themselves in its stunning scenery in a variety of ways.

Presented below is a brief outline of some of the main highlights of what you can see and do during your time there.

Fishing at Tarkiln Bayou Preserve State Park

Be sure to bring your rods and reels with you to the park as you can fish within designated areas.

Depending on where you do this you might need a license. But assuming you get the green light you will be able to enjoy some picturesque conditions in which to cast a line.

Whilst at the park there is a pier that anglers can use. If they are biting you should be able to catch largemouth bass, red drum, black drum, channel catfish and seatrout.

Please note, if you do fish at the park, you will need to conform to its rules with regards to number, size, season and method of capture.

Tall pine trees at Tarkiln Bayou Preserve State Park

Hiking at Tarkiln Bayou Preserve State Park

If you are inclined to explore the park in more detail there are two hiking trails you can tackle.

The Tarkiln Bayou Trail is an ADA accessible trail that extends for half a mile. Comprising an elevated boardwalk and sidewalk it takes you through a changing landscape of prairie and both cypress and titi forest. At the end of the trail you can take in stunning bayou views. Along the way there are several benches to sit on.

At 6.5 miles long, the Perdido Bay Trail is more challenging. But it will take you all the way to the beaches by the bayshore.

Be sure to take a good pair of hiking boots with you on this trail as it passes through a number of muddy areas and seepage streams which are located in between pines and oaks.

Picnicking at Tarkiln Bayou Preserve State Park

Situated next to the start of the Tarkiln Bayou Trail is a small picnic pavilion which makes a nice spot to enjoy an al fresco meal.

Please note, the consumption of alcohol is not allowed here or anywhere in the park.

viewing dock over the water at Tarkiln Bayou Preserve State Park

Birding at Tarkiln Bayou Preserve State Park

If you are into birding you will love the opportunity the park provides you to see a range of upland and migratory birds.

Depending on the time of year you visit, and if you hit the trails, you might be able to see the likes of brown-headed nuthatches, pine warblers and yellow-breasted chats.

You should also see white-eyed vireos, clapper rails and tricolored herons too, as well as common ground-doves. During the late spring and summer, common nighthawks can also regularly be seen.

For a full list of the birds you can see at the park contain the main office for a birding list.

Nature & Wildlife

The park is home to a wide range of plants and wildlife, many of which you might encounter on the trails.

As well as being home to four different species of the rare and endangered pitcher plants, over 100 other flora and fauna species can be found within the wet prairie ecosystem.

Wherever you go throughout the park you can expect to see bobcats, white-tailed deer, raccoon, opossum and snakes.
You may even see an alligator snapping turtle and the beautiful Chapman’s butterwort.

wetland forest ecosystem at Tarkiln Bayou Preserve State Park

Pets at Tarkiln Bayou Preserve State Park

If you want to bring your dog with you to the park you will be pleased to know they are welcome to join you. However, some restrictions are imposed on their presence.

This includes them being well behaved at all times. It also involves them being restrained on a hand held leash that is no more than six feet in length.

For further details about their pet policy it is worth contacting the park’s main office.

Camping at Tarkiln Bayou Preserve State Park

Unfortunately, there are no camping accommodation options available at the park.

That said, if you need a place to stay overnight in order to visit it you will find several campgrounds close by. This includes the Big Lagoon State Park Campground, Fort Pickens Campground and Blue Angels RV Park.

Between them these campgrounds offer a range of options for RVs and trailers which include hookups for electricity and water. In addition to these there are also cabins and lodges available, as well as primitive tent sites for those who like to rough it.

Depending on where you stay, amenities at these campgrounds will include flush toilets and warm showers. They might also have a dump station, swimming pool, playground and convenience store.

If you would prefer to stay somewhere a little more upscale. You will find plenty of hotels and motels in Pensacola, as well as a selection of rooms you can book from Vrbo.

Park Location

Tarkiln Bayou Preserve State Park
2401 Bauer Road
Pensacola, FL 32506
Phone: 850.492.1595




Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Tarkiln Bayou Preserve State Park: