De Soto National Memorial is pet friendly. We encourage visitors to bring their furry friends out to enjoy the park and its trails and water areas. While you are here, there are a couple of rules we ask for you to follow to respect everyone's use of the park:
- All pets must be maintained on a leash at all times. It does not matter if your pet is friendly, some visitors do have a fear of pets. Also, that other dog on a leash might not be friendly.
- We ask that you please pick up your pet's waste. We love to preserve our nature and trails, and pet waste can leach toxic substances into the ecosystem. It is also a health hazard for others. We do provide pet waste recepticles at several areas along the parks trails. Please dispose of the bagged waste in the proper recepticle and not the surrounding wetland estuary.
- Please be considerate of others. While you and your pet may enjoy the park, other visitors may enjoy the park differently. Please refrain from any confrontation while in the park, feel free to contact Park staff at 941-792-0458 and we will handle any situation.
- De Soto National Memorial does work with Manatee County Animal Services and Florida Fish and Wildlife (FWC). If you are found in non-compliance of local, state, or federal leash laws, these officers can issue up to a $300 fine for each infraction they find.
De Soto National Memorial treasures all its visitors and wishes everyone to have a safe and enjoyable National Park visit.
The Nature Trail winds along the shoreline and through several Florida ecosystems, including a mangrove forest like the one that De Soto's men would have encountered when they landed. Trails include interpretive signage and waysides that tell the story of the De Soto Expedition and the natural history of the area. Bicycling is allowed in the parking lot, but not on the sidewalks or trails.
Forty-five minute guided Trail Walks are offered by Park Rangers pending staff availability and weather. Inquire at the Visitor Center. For tour availability, call (941)792-0458, ext. 105.
Our Living History Camp is opened December through April. Rangers and volunteers dressed in period clothing will present talks on a variety of historical topics related to the De Soto Expedition and Florida's Native Americans. There will also be weapons and Spanish and native craft demonstrations throughout the day.
A picnic area is located adjacent to the parking lot and is available for visitors on a first come basis. Large groups and schools should call ahead to reserve seating. Grills and alcohol are not allowed within the park.
The seasonal migration of birds brings many bird watchers to the park in the fall and early spring. The exact timing of migration is dependent upon weather. Come to our visitor center and inquire what new and rare birds have been sighted recently at De Soto National Memorial.
De Soto National Memorial has no facilities for camping. The park grounds are closed from sunset to sunrise.
Shorelines and Beach
Small beaches are located within the park. The De Soto Point Beach is located west of De Soto Point and northwest of the Visitor Center. This beach is exposed to the current of the Manatee River and the waves of Tampa Bay. The Cove Beach located on the south side of De Soto Point and is more popular because it is sheltered from most current and waves. No life guards are on duty. Swimmers use park beaches at their own risk.
Fishing with rod and reel is allowed within the park with a valid Florida drivers license and valid State of Florida fishing liscense. Fishermen are not allowed to stand on rip rap or to clear brush from any area in order to gain access to the water. For questions of licensure and eligability please visit http://myfwc.com/license/
The Cove is a popular temporary anchorage for small pleasure boats. Canoes and kayaks that may easily carried to the water by hand may be launched from the park beaches provided that vegetation, terrain, and wildlife is not disturbed. Loud motors and the creation of excessive wave action is prohibited.