Hurricane Ivan had inflicted heavy damage on the western 7 miles of Santa Rosa Island, where the historic fort is located, and the road leading down the island to the fort has been closed for years. After much work and effort on the part of the National Park Service, the road reopened at the end of May and is now accessible 7 days a week.
The speed limit on the repaired access road is 15 miles per hour and the Fort Pickens area is open from 8 a.m. until sunset. The visitor center at the fort is open from 9:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. and ranger guided tours are once again given daily at 2 p.m. The entrance fee is $8 and is good for 7 days.
In addition to Fort Pickens itself, visitors can once again access the historic concrete artillery batteries on Santa Rosa Island. These date from 1898 through World War II and were once an important part of our nation's defenses.
Fort Pickens itself dates from the early 19th century and played a critical role during the Civil War. It took part in two major bombardments with Confederate troops on the mainland and in later years served as a prison for the famed Apache leader Geronimo.
To learn more, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/fortpickens1.