Florida State Parks are in various stages of accessibility, and are working to improve access to services and facilities. Should you need assistance to enable your full participation, please contact the individual park office as soon as possible. Sometimes as many as ten days may be needed to schedule a particular accommodation.

Management & Protection
Florida State Parks are managed as natural systems. All plant and animal life is protected in state parks. Hunting, livestock grazing and timber removal are not permitted. Do not remove, deface, mutilate or molest any natural resources. For your safety, do not feed any animals. Intoxicants and firearms are prohibited.

Hours of Operation
Florida state parks are open from 8 a.m. until sundown 365 days a year.

Pets are not allowed in camping areas, on bathing beaches, in concession areas and may be restricted in other designated areas of the park. Where pets are allowed, they must be kept on a six-foot, hand-held leash and well-behaved at all times. Service dogs are welcome in all areas of the parks.

State Park Guide
To discover and experience all of the Real Florida at Florida's 145 state parks, ask a Park Ranger where you can pick up a copy of the Florida State Park Guide, or call 850/488-9872.


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The island of Egmont Key has unique natural and cultural histories which have made it a valuable resource since the time settlers first arrived in Florida. Named in honor of John Perceval, the second Earl of Egmont and member of the Irish House of Commons in 1763, Egmont Key has had Spanish conquistadors and nuclear submarines pass its shores as they entered Tampa Bay

In the 1830's, as shipping increased, so did the number of ships that were grounded on the numerous sandbars around Egmont Key. On March 3, 1847, Congress authorized funds to construct a lighthouse on Egmont. The construction was completed in May,1848. Once completed, it was the only lighthouse between St. Marks and Key West. When the Great Hurricane of 1848 struck, tides 15 feet above normal washed over the island and damaged the light. Another storm in 1852 did additional damage and prompted Congress to appropriate funds to rebuild the lighthouse and lightkeeper's residence.

At the end of the third Seminole War in 1858, Egmont Key was used by the U.S. Army to detain Seminole prisoners until they could be transported to Arkansas Territory.

In 1858, the lighthouse was reconstructed to "withstand any storm." The new tower is 87 feet high with an Argard kerosene lamp and fixed Fresnel lens. Confederate troops occupied the island when the Civil War began. Realizing they could not defend their position, the Confederates evacuated Egmont, taking with them the Fresnel lens from the tower. The Union navy used Egmont to operate their Gulf Coast blockade of the Confederacy. Union troops raided Tampa in an unsuccessful effort to locate the missing lens.

The lighthouse returned to normal operation at the end of the war. After the Civil War, the lightkeeper, his assistant and their families were the principal residents of the island from 1866 to 1898.

Fort Dade was established on Egmont Key when the Spanish-American War was imminent. When construction was completed in 1906, Fort Dade was a small city of 300 residents with electricity, telephones, movie theater, bowling alley, tennis courts, hospital and a jail. The fort was deactivated in 1923.

The Tampa Bay Pilots Association, established in 1886, set up operations on the island in 1926. When ships approach Tampa Bay, a pilot boards the vessel in the main channel and directs the ship to the docks. As the vessel leaves the dock the pilot guides it out and returns to Egmont Key on one of the pilot boats. The work of the pilots helps to protect the Bay from environmental damage that would result from grounding and/or collisions.

In 1939, the Lighthouse Service was transferred to the U.S. Coast Guard, which has maintained the light as well as radio guidance equipment. The Key was designated a National Wildlife Refuge in 1974, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Due to staffing limitations and increased public visits, the Wildlife Service was unable to protect the resources on its own. When the Coast Guard automated the light, Coast Guard personnel were reassigned. The Florida Park Service began operations at Egmont Key on October 1, 1989, as part of a co-management agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Visitors can spend the day on the beach sunbathing, swimming in the warm bay waters, walking through the historic ruins of Fort Dade, or walking the brick paths that remain from the days Fort Dade was an active community with 300 residents. A gopher tortoise can be seen at almost every turn as you walk the historic paths. Many visitors are treated to the sight of hummingbirds as well as other seabirds.

Egmont Key State Park is cooperatively managed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Coast Guard. Access to the island is by boat only. The park is located at the mouth of Tampa Bay, southwest of Fort DeSoto Beach.

To visit Egmont Key State Park, contact one of the following ferry services for schedules and fees.

Cortez Lady (941) 761-9777 ( departs from Cortez, south of Bradenton)
Capt. Bill (727) 867-8168,
Capt. Daves (727) 367-4336,
Capt. Franks (727) 345-4500,
Capt. Kidd (727) 360-2263,
Dolphin Landing (727) 360-7411,
Hubbards Sea Adventures (727) 398-6577. (departs from St. Petersburg area and the beaches)

Egmont Key is located at the mouth of Tampa Bay, southwest of Fort DeSoto Beach. Access by private boat only.
For more information on the park, write to:
Egmont Key State Park
4905 34th Street South, #5000
St. Petersburg, FL 33711
or call: (727) 893-2627.

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