Gulf Islands National Seashore in Mississippi has a wide range of park programs planned for 2024. These educational and informative Ranger-led programs are a favorite of visitors to the park. Expect kayaking, bird watching, and alligator programs at the Davis Bayou location in Ocean Springs, tours of Fort Massachusetts, and historical weapon demonstrations on Ship Island.
Let the season begin! March 16, 2024, is the start of ferry service to Ship Island
The Rangers have been busy planning for 2024. “Ranger-led Fort Massachusetts tours will be offered at 10:15 AM and 1:15 PM on days the ferry operates,” says Supervisory Park Ranger John Bernstiel. “The visitor experience is important to us, and we will be expanding options this year. One program to look out for will be the ‘Life of a Ship Island Soldier’ historical weapons demonstration.”
During the historic weapons demonstration programs, Rangers and park volunteers dress in Civil War uniforms and demonstrate rifle loading and firing techniques. The program highlights fort history, soldier’s stories, and the challenges of the period. Find the “Life of a Soldier” program on Saturdays at 11:45 AM inside Fort Massachusetts on Ship Island.
The ferry service to Mississippi’s barrier island begins with a spring schedule and provides trips Wednesday through Sunday. The ferry departs Jones Park Marina, located in Gulfport at the intersection of Highway 49 & Highway 90, at 9:00 AM on weekdays with a noon departure added on weekends. Parking is always free, but it is important to confirm your trip in case of weather delays.
Ranger John said, “Visitors can look forward to returning and new educational programs at Davis Bayou. There will be alligator tours, guided nature hikes, and a new program on shorebirds. The programs are designed to educate visitors on why federal law protects certain species of shorebirds. The Least Tern and Showy Plover are examples of bird species visitors can expect to learn about.”
Kayaking programs return to Davis Bayou – first event February 24, 2024
The kayaking program is a favorite. Participants will be delighted to hear the park has purchased a new kayak launch making it easier to get everyone out on the water safely. The schedule will include weekly programs and special full moon and sunrise trips. The park partners with Jackson County Recreation for these special events. Visitors will take a kayak across Davis Bayou with trained Rangers as guides. Kayaks, paddles, and life vests are provided, participants must weigh at least 50 pounds. Bring your passion for nature and adventure.
The first full moon paddle is set for February 24
When visiting Davis Bayou in Ocean Springs, William Colmer Visitor Center is the place to start your park visit. Open daily from 9 AM to 4 PM, the center offers educational exhibits and a video highlighting the history of the Gulf Islands National Seashore. Children ages 6 to 11 are invited to become Junior Rangers, fun and educational handbooks are free, and upon completion, an official badge will be awarded.
Gulf Islands National Seashore rangers have a busy year planned, so check the park schedule for details. Ship Island Excursions can be contacted at (228)864-1014 and the William Colmer Visitor Center at (228)230-4121.