Nature, Wildlife, and History on the Space Coast – Visiting The Canaveral National Seashore and Merritt Island NWR

My Space Coast Road Trip wasn’t just about space history and rocket launches, I also visited the Canaveral National Seashore and the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). I visited the north end of the Canaveral National Seashore on my way to the Space Coast on Monday; unfortunately, that visit got cut short because just as I arrived, so did some thunderstorms. On Monday afternoon and Tuesday, I visited the Merritt Island NWR, which is adjacent to the Canaveral National Seashore, and on Thursday I visited the south end of the Seashore. Both the Seashore and the NWR are great places to take in nature and see wildlife and the Seashore is a tranquil place to just take it slow and relax.

Canaveral National Seashore Apollo Beach Visitors Center (on the north end of the Seashore)

On the north end of the Canaveral National Seashore, near the Apollo Beach Visitors Center, there is History to be found in addition to nature and wildlife. Near the Apollo Beach Visitors Center is Turtle Mound, a large shell mound built by Native Americans between 800-1400 CE. There is a boardwalk that takes you to the top of the mound where you get an idea of just how high the mound is and can get a view of the surroundings. There are some other historic sites on the north end of the Seashore, but thunderstorms prevented me from getting to them; I’ll be visiting them on future trips to the area.

The Canaveral National Seashore features a variety of habitats: beaches and dunes, hammocks, and lagoons, so there is a wide variety of nature and wildlife to see. The beaches at the Seashore are simply beautiful. Instead of the muddy colored water at the beaches in Coastal Georgia, the Seashore’s beaches feature lovely blue-green colored water. The Seashore’s beaches are also a great place to see shore birds like Ruddy Turnstones and Willets and other marine birds like Brown Pelicans. From Playalinda Beach at the northern end of the Canaveral National Seashore, you can see some of the launch complexes at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The north end, in particular, is a great place to blend nature and wildlife with aerospace and technology. A SpaceX launch took place during the road trip and I watched it from Playalinda Beach.

I visited the Merritt Island NWR’s Black Point Wildlife Drive adjacent to the south end of the Canaveral National Seashore on Monday and Tuesday of my road trip. Monday was rainy and windy, but I still saw quite a few birds. Tuesday was sunny, but still windy and I saw a few Alligators in addition to birds. On both days, there were plenty of Roseate Spoonbills to see. I was also lucky enough to see Reddish Egrets on both days; getting to see them is a treat because they don’t range as far north as Coastal Georgia.

Merritt Island NWR – Monday

Merritt Island NWR – Tuesday

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