St. Joseph Hurricane Recovery FAQs
Hurricane Recovery - St. Joseph
What is currently open at the park?
Today, the park is open for day-use from 8 a.m. to sundown.
- Kayak, canoe and pontoon boat rentals are available.
- The Maritime Hammock Nature Trail has reopened.
- The boat launch provides access to St. Joseph Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
- The park offers nearly 20 miles of beach and bay shoreline for recreation and wildlife habitat.
- Visitors enjoy fishing, bicycling, birding, boating, hiking, paddling, picnicking, shelling, swimming and wildlife viewing.
What is special about T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park?
T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park protects some of the tallest intact dunes in the Florida panhandle and is one of the best examples of undeveloped dune habitat in the state.
- The park is one of the most important nesting areas for the threatened snowy plover (Charadrius alexandrinus), providing breeding ground for 17% of the statewide population in 2006.
- The park protects an integral area that large numbers of rare and imperiled migratory bird species use as a “jumping off” point for their trans-gulf flights.
- The park provides nesting beaches for three species of federally listed sea turtles, including green (Chelonia mydas), leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), and loggerhead (Caretta caretta).
- The park protects one of the remaining two “core” populations of the endangered St. Andrew beach mouse (Peromyscus polionotus peninsularis) on conservation lands.
- The park protects nearly 20 miles of beach and bay shoreline for wildlife habitat and resource-based public recreation.
- The park contains a designated Wilderness Preserve area that consists of over 1,900 acres of the northern 7 miles of the peninsula.
- The park provides Florida residents and visitors with the opportunity to experience and understand the dynamic natural ecosystems and processes at play on Florida’s gulf coast.
What projects have been completed at the park since Hurricane Michael?
- The breach caused by Hurricane Michael has filled in and a new road is in place.
- The beach restroom has been remodeled.
- New residences have been built for the park manager and assistant park manager.
- Debris has been removed.
- Sea oats have been planted to stabilize the dune and prevent erosion.
What’s happening at T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park?
The Department of Environmental Protection is thankful to be making improvements to the facilities at T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park.
These projects include:
- Cabin renovations.
- Rebuilding Shady Pines Campground featuring 46 new and better spaced-out sites.
- Transitioning the former Gulf Breeze campground into a day-use area.
- Creating a new Bayview Campground loop.
- Creating volunteer campsites.
In the future, another project will improve the marina area. This will include dredging and improved boat and marine-area parking.
We appreciate the patience and understanding of visitors. While this project may present a temporary inconvenience, it will provide valuable amenity improvements at T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park.
When will the cabins reopen?
The eight cabins and linked boardwalks were damaged by storm surge flooding and will be renovated and/or reconstructed to restore overnight accommodations within the park.
The gulf access trail from the cabins will be reestablished for cabin visitors to reach the beach within a short walking distance.
The cabins will reopen for reservations beginning around mid-2023.
When will the park offer camping again?
In the future, the park will offer two camping loops.
The former Shady Pines Campground was washed out by Hurricane Michael. The bathhouses were destroyed. Much of the tree canopy was lost. The dune adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico was eroded.
The new Shady Pines Campground will feature 36 standard-facility campsites and 10 tent-only campsites. Two new bathhouses will be built. Campers will have access to the Gulf beach from the campground. The Shady Pines Campground will open around mid-2023.
A new camping loop, called the Bayview Campground, will be created on the site of the former boat trailer parking area. Campers will enjoy a scenic view over the waters of St. Joseph Bay. Approximately 19 standard-facility campsites will surround an area of natural scrubby flatwoods with a footpath to a bathhouse.
Will there be a picnic area at the park?
Yes. Park visitors will have access to two new day-use areas for picnicking and other recreation.
The Gulf Breeze Day Use Area (former Gulf Breeze Campground) will allow visitors to explore an area of beach north of Eagle Harbor with a scenic backdrop of piney flatwoods and open marsh that provide habitat for an abundance of wildlife. Opportunities for viewing the landscape will be provided by short walking paths and a potential observation platform. Additional amenities at this location will include overflow parking for vehicles with boat trailers, a restroom and covered pavilions.
Pavilions at the Bayview Day Use Area will provide shade for picnickers. This area will be used by hikers on the Bayview Hiking Trail and paddlers for launching paddlecraft and small watercraft.
Will there be primitive camping at the park?
Yes. Fourteen primitive campsites will offer a remote experience in the Wilderness Preserve. This sensitive natural community has demonstrated resilience to the impacts of Hurricane Michael. The winds of the storm left many trees bent over and snapped into the shape of an A-frame. Storm surge left behind debris.
Today, palmettos, rosemary, oaks and pines are sprouting in the understory.