ST. SEBASTIAN RIVER PRESERVE STATE PARK
This site preserves open grassy forests of longleaf pine that were once commonplace throughout Florida. The pine flatwoods form a backdrop for other biological communities, including cypress domes, scrubby flatwoods, sandhills, and a beautiful strand swamp. These habitats are home to many native plants and animals, including over 50 protected species. Photographers, bird-watchers, and nature enthusiasts can explore miles of trails on foot, bicycle, or horseback. Canoeing, boating, and fishing on the St. Sebastian River are popular activities. Launching facilities are available outside the preserve at Dale Wimbrow Park and several private ramps along the St. Sebastian River, and a canoe launch north of County Road 512.
St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park is open from 8 a.m. until sundown 365 days a year.
The visitor center is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Wildlife Viewing. West Indian manatees gather in the C54 canal from November through March and can be observed at the eastern end of Buffer Preserve Drive in Brevard County. Other wildlife viewing includes birds, deer, coyote, bobcat, wild turkey, quail, eastern indigo snakes and gopher tortoises. Alligators can be seen in the St. Sebastian River and the C54 canal. If you see an alligator while on the river, please give them a wide berth and do not attempt to feed or molest them. Although rare, alligators have been known to make unprovoked attacks on pets and humans, so please keep your distance.BirdingThe Preserve is part of the Great Florida Birding Trail and has been identified as one of the top birding locations in the United States. Many different species of birds use the preserve during migration, such as the swallow-tailed kite, various songbirds, hawks, hummingbirds and robins. Please look at our bird checklist to see which birds are here during each season. Our most popular birds are red-cockaded woodpeckers, Florida scrub jays and Bachman's sparrows. More common sightings include sandhill cranes, wood storks, southern bald eagles and American kestrels.
The State of Florida began to purchase large tracts of land for the preserve in 1995. The primary purpose of acquiring the land was to protect the watershed to the St. Sebastian River and the Indian River Lagoon and soon grew to include protecting rare and endangered species of plants and animals and the pristine habitats where they live. The preserve covers one-third of the watershed to the St. Sebastian River, improving water quality and reducing human impacts such as agricultural and residential uses. The preserve has grown continually since the first land acquisition and now encompasses more than 35 square miles (22,000 acres).
Primitive tent camping is available at six campsites. All sites are hike in only. Two are located on the north side of the preserve in Brevard County. Four are located on the south side of the preserve in Indian River County. Collection of firewood is prohibited. You'll need to pack in all food, water, firewood and pack out all trash. Advance reservations are required, payable by cash or check. You will need to provide vehicle tag numbers for every vehicle staying on the preserve overnight. The preserve?s entrance gates are locked at sunset and are re-opened by 8:00 a.m. A camper's combination lock is available for use in case of emergencies between sunset and 8:00 a.m. Call the preserve office Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., on 321-953-5005 to make reservations.
Horse Camping: Three primitive campsites are available for horse camping for groups up to 20. Storytelling Camp in Brevard County has paddocks, non-potable water for horses, a pitcher pump, picnic pavilion, one portable toilet, campfire ring and benches. Ranch Camp in Indian River County has paddocks, non-potable water for horses, campfire ring and benches. Eagle Camp in Indian River County has one large paddock, a pitcher pump, three raised tent platforms, a lean to, campfire ring and benches. Eagle Camp is a ride-in only site requiring a five-mile ride each way from the parking area. Proof of negative Coggins test must be carried at all times.
The preserve has five primitive tent camp sites available for groups up to 20 persons. Larger groups must obtain permission from the Park Manager. Fees are per person per night and must be paid in advance by cash or check. Advance reservations are required to reserve campsites. You will need to provide vehicle tag numbers for every vehicle staying on the preserve overnight. The preserve's entrance gates are locked at sunset and are re-opened by 8:00 a.m. A camper's combination lock is available for use in case of emergencies between sunset and 8 a.m. Call the preserve office Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., on 321-953-5005 for reservations.
The visitor center is open Friday through Sunday, 9;00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on the northwest side of the preserve in Brevard County. Trail maps for each section of the preserve can be obtained here. Stop by to see our skull collection, an ancient mastodon bone, a red-cockaded woodpecker cavity and many other interesting items. The visitor's center is wheelchair accessible.
No launching of canoes or kayaks is permitted on the Preserve. However, launching is available nearby at Donald MacDonald Park or Dale Wimbrow Park (both off Roseland Road) or at the Indian River County canoe launch north of the intersection of CR512 and CR510. The county's launch site requires a two-hour paddle to reach the Preserve's canoe landing. You might plan to stop along the river and have a picnic or take a hike on the preserve before paddling on to your disembarkation point.
Fishing is permitted in ponds on the preserve, the shoreline of the C-54 canal and in the St. Sebastian River. The water in the St. Sebastian River is brackish which sustains both freshwater and saltwater species. Some examples of species found in the river are tarpon, snook, bass and mullet. Please make sure to abide by all State of Florida rules and regulations regarding fishing and licenses. Licenses can be obtained at most bait and tackle shops or at any county tax collector's office.