National Park Service announces Opal Beach and beach road reopenings on Wednesday

Posted on May 5, 2020 by Staff reports

Following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local public health authorities, Gulf Islands National Seashore is increasing recreational access in Florida

The National Park Service (NPS) is working servicewide with federal, state, and local public health authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and using a phased approach to increase access on a park-by-park basis.

Beginning on the dates listed below, Gulf Islands National Seashore will reopen access to:
(text in bold is new information since our previous release)  

  • The Okaloosa Area as of Saturday, May 2
    • No restrooms
  • The Naval Live Oaks Area as of Saturday, May 2
    • No restrooms
    • The headquarters exhibit area will remain closed
  • Santa Rosa Area, including Highway 399 on Wednesday, May 6
    • Parking lots 33A and 36A along the gulf-side of Highway 399 will remain closed through the summer due to shorebird nesting
    • Parking lots 34B, 34C, and 34D within the Opal Beach Complex will be opened
    • All restrooms will remain closed
  • Perdido Key Area on Saturday, May 9
    • Shortened hours 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    • Restrooms will be open
    • East pavilion is closed for repairs

With public health in mind, the following facilities remain closed at this time:

  • The Fort Pickens, Fort Barrancas, and Davis Bayou areas
  • Petit Bois, West Petit Bois, Horn, and Ship islands, as well as, the NPS-owned portion of Cat Island

“Park staff continue to monitor data from the local and regional areas,” said Superintendent Dan Brown. “As real-time information continues to change, the park looks to increase recreational access in a safe and responsible way.”

The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners continues to be paramount. At Gulf Islands National Seashore, our operational approach will be to examine each facility function and service provided to ensure those operations comply with current public health guidance and will be regularly monitored. We continue to work closely with the NPS Office of Public Health using CDC guidance to ensure public and workspaces are safe and clean for visitors, employees, partners, and volunteers.  

While these areas are accessible for visitors to enjoy, a return to full operations will continue to be phased and services will be limited. When recreating, the public should follow local area health orders, practice Leave No Trace principles, avoid crowding and avoid high-risk outdoor activities.

The CDC has offered guidance to help people recreating in parks and open spaces prevent the spread of infectious diseases. We will continue to monitor all park functions to ensure that visitors adhere to CDC guidance for mitigating risks associated with the transmission of COVID-19 and take any additional steps necessary to protect public health.  

Details and updates on park operations will continue to be posted on our website and social media channels. Updates about NPS operations will be posted on