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Camping at Pelican Island State Park

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General Information About Pelican Island State Park

Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, which is often referred to as a State Park, is an important piece of the United States National Wildlife Refuge System. It is actually located within Indian River County, Florida, and holds the distinction of being the first national wildlife refuge in the United States, established by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903.

The refuge is situated on the east coast of central Florida, in the Indian River Lagoon, near the town of Vero Beach and Sebastian. It was created to protect the egrets and other birds from extinction due to plume hunting.

Activities and Recreation

Pelican Island offers a variety of recreational activities including:

  • Wildlife Watching: The refuge is an excellent place for birdwatching, as it provides habitat for over 130 species of birds throughout the year.

  • Hiking Trails: Visitors can enjoy trails that lead to observation platforms overlooking Pelican Island and the Indian River Lagoon.

  • Fishing: Anglers can fish in designated areas of the refuge's waters.

  • Photography: With its diverse habitats and wildlife, Pelican Island is a great spot for nature photography.

Camping Information

While Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge is an important habitat for wildlife, it is not a traditional state park with amenities like campgrounds. There are no facilities for camping on the island itself. However, visitors looking to camp can find several campgrounds in the nearby area, including:

  • Sebastian Inlet State Park: Offers full-facility campground.
  • Long Point Park: Provides campsites and is located on an island in the Indian River Lagoon.

Before heading out, it’s best to check the current status of camping areas as availability can change seasonally and due to environmental protection measures.

Rules and Regulations

Like any protected area, the refuge has specific rules and regulations designed to protect its wildlife and habitats:

  • No Disturbance: It’s important to observe animals from a distance to avoid disturbing them, especially during nesting seasons.
  • Leave No Trace: Visitors should follow Leave No Trace principles to minimize their impact on the natural environment.
  • Fishing Regulations: Ensure you are following all state and federal fishing regulations if you plan to fish in the area.

Visiting the Refuge

  • Hours of Operation: The refuge is typically open during daylight hours year-round, but it’s prudent to check with the refuge directly for any changes or closures.
  • Fees: There are no entrance fees to visit Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge.
  • Accessibility: Some areas may be accessible to those with mobility impairments, but it’s best to consult with refuge staff about the status of trails and facilities.

Conservation Efforts

The primary goal of Pelican Island and the National Wildlife Refuge System is to conserve land and wildlife. As such, activities that could harm the environment are strictly controlled or prohibited. Participation in conservation efforts, whether through volunteering or following the rules while visiting, contributes to the preservation of this historical and ecological treasure.

Map of Campgrounds in Pelican Island State Park
Campgrounds in Pelican Island State Park
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