Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park has come a long way from its role as a World War II gunnery and bombing practice range. The only thing that remains from that era are the longleaf pine trees, which provide ample shade over the trails, picnic areas, and campgrounds. The rest of the landscape has transformed considerably, providing you with plenty of incredible sights along each trail and waterway. If you look closely, you can even see deer lichen growing along the paths as a testament to the low pollution levels in this park.
You can visit this parkland for just a few hours or stay for days at the campgrounds. When on a short visit during the day, you can arrive as early as 8 am and stay until the sun sets. There is parking available at the park that makes it easy to access. As a camper, you can arrive anytime, though you will need to call the rangers for the gate combo after sundown. Either way, you are welcome to bring your pets as long as they stay on a six-foot leash at all times. Just remember to keep them off the beach and playground during your stay.
Fun activities enjoyed here include:
Hike Along the Nature Trails
If you are ready to take in the view of old-growth trees, colorful flowers, and other breathtaking landscape features, then you must take a hike along the nature trails. They have three distinct trails to choose from, depending on what you want to see. The Sand Pine Trail will treat you to a look at the Puddin Stream, which features pitcher plants and other aquatic wonders. The inland Red Cedar Trail provides the best look at the massive red cedars growing here. If you want to check out the shoreline, take the Rocky Bayou Trail where you can see estuarine seagrass beds by the ton. None of the trails have steep elevation changes, making them an easy walk for most visitors.
Explore the Bayou by Canoe
The Rocky Bayou is calling your name, begging you to snag a canoe or kayak rental for a day on the water. While paddling along the bayou, you have many opportunities to see rare birds, like the trumpeter swan, plus dolphins, otters, and more. You can also take the watercraft up the freshwater stream to see that waterway in a whole new light.
Hold an Event in the Pavilion
If you will soon have a wedding, anniversary, or birthday bash, consider renting one of the two pavilions in this park. The large picnic pavilions will accommodate all of your friends and family, allowing them to join in on your celebrations. You can have everyone bring potluck dishes to share and even fire up the onsite barbecue grills to fill everyone up in style.
To make trail explorations even more rewarding for visitors, this park has become a prime spot for geo-seeking enthusiasts. Using the clues from the geocaching website, you can search for these little caches of trinkets and treasures at every corner of the park. The more knowledge you have about the local landscape, the easier it will be to find each cache. So, visit often and keep your eyes peeled to participate in this fun pastime.
– If you want to go swimming, fishing, or canoeing, make sure to check the water quality reports before heading out.
– Since this campground is quite popular, make sure to reserve your spots well ahead of time.
– When camping at this park, you will have to pay a toll to take the fastest route to Destin.