Tour of the Vistas - Canaveral National Seashore - Titusville, Florida
Canaveral National Seashore - Titusville Florida
Headquarters: 212 S. Washington Ave., Titusville, FL 32796 -- (321) 267-1110
Information Center: 7611 South Atlantic Avenue, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32169 -- (386) 428-3384

A Taste Of Canaveral

Through The Tour Of the Vistas and Beach Road


|| Vista: | 1 | 2 | 3 | Bio Road | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | Beach ||


The next 15-mile tour (roundtrip) will be an experience of sight and sense. Every day is different for you never know who will be at home. One thing is sure; this area is where the past converges with the future. You will hear birds and possibly see animals that you have only read about before, and you will experience Florida the way it was over 400 years ago. By the time you leave, we hope to have stimulated your senses and curiosity so you will want to learn more about this place we call "Canaveral."

Where do you start? Go across the Indian River from Titusville on Route 406 about 10 miles to the entrance gate. Stop at any one of the paved pull offs. Each is a Vista. Look for the number on the thin wooden pole. The first one is 0.4 miles from the entrance gate.

Click on the thumbnail photos below to see an enlargement. Use the BACK button of your browser to return to this page.
Florida Scrub Jay on Vista 1marker.

Vista 1 (0.4 miles)

Vista 1 photo 2

Vista 1 photo 1

As you look around, you might think, "This is not the seashore I came to see! Why am I stopping here?" "Where's the beach?" Even though you do not see any beach, the plant life in front of you IS part of THIS seashore's story.

During the years of trying to rid this area of mosquitoes, some of the natural grasses were destroyed. Thick shrubs started to change the salinity of the salt marsh and this encouraged the growth of the cattails you see to the north. These aquatic perennials are found mainly in fresh water marshes. Cattails form dense stands and provide favorable habitat for red-winged blackbirds. The rootstock is mostly starch, edible and was ground into meal by Native Americans and early settlers. Young shoots can be eaten like asparagus. Higher up and behind the cattails are saw palmettos. These are shrubs with fan shaped leaves and sharp, saw-like teeth along the leaf stem. Their flowers are used in honey production. The black juicy fruit was eaten, used as flavoring during early times, and is today used in prostate cancer research. Thickets of these shrubs are good habitats for the gopher tortoise and eastern indigo snake.


Vista 2 (1.4 miles)

Vista 2 photo 1

Vista 2 photo 2

To the north you can see the salt marsh that covers several acres. Too often considered a wasteland, the salt marsh is actually one of the richest and most productive wildlife communities on earth. In this "wet area" exist red-wing blackbirds, several species of rails, wildflowers, leather leaf ferns, dragonflies, cedar trees and several different species of endangered wildlife. The water provides a breeding ground for the mosquito, which is eaten by the dragonfly. The wildflowers provide berries for the red-winged blackbirds. The ferns and cedars provide shelter for snakes, mice and rabbits, and all these provide food to the occasional bobcat passing through. Did you say there is nothing out there to see? Look again!

Vista 3 (1.7 miles)

Vista 3 photo 4
Vista 6 photo 2
Along this road, is your first glimpse of the future. Look to the south. This area is part of the original buffer zone of Kennedy Space Center when it was established in the late 1950's. It was given to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to manage and in the early 60's became Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. By the 1970's, the management plan became unrealistic due to the extensive acreage, and Congress proposed giving part of the land to the U.S. National Park Service. In 1975, it became Canaveral National Seashore. Today, man, nature, and technology come together in such a way to make this truly a special place.       Up

Bio-lab Road (1.8 miles)

Bio-Lab Road The dirt road to the north winds around the West Side of Mosquito Lagoon and is used mainly by fisherman and wildlife enthusiasts. A drive or walk along this 6-mile road will give you an opportunity to view shorebirds during migration and "locals" that make their home here year around. We have over 300 species of birds within the park. Hopefully you will see your favorites and catch a glimpse of some new ones. Taking this "road less traveled" is REALLY getting back to nature.

Vista 4 (1.9 miles)

Vista 4 photo 1
Vista 4 photo 1
In the shadow of the shuttle pads, some of the most beautiful wading birds can be seen. At any given time of the day you may encounter ibis, anhingas, cormorants, egrets, wood storks, roseate spoonbills, brown and white pelicans, and great blue herons.

Between Vistas 4 and 5, look for sunbathing alligators along the roadside. Please do not stop in the middle of the road or on the grassy area to view them! You can stop safely in vista 6 to observe these large reptiles. Take care! These animals are WILD and, despite rumors, move fast when attacking either on land or in the water. PLEASE DO NOT FEED OR HARASS THEM!


Vista 5 (2.5 miles)

In the 1950's, the government tried to make this area more habitable to man by reducing the number of mosquitoes. If you step outside your car on a hot summer afternoon, you will realize they did not reach their goal. Visitations by mosquitoes in this marshy area are a way of life. The result of the attempted mosquito eradication was a series of impoundments, dikes and spoil islands which greatly altered the natural ecosystem. Some native wildlife ceased to exist, such as the dusky seaside sparrow, while others thrived. Islands such as the ones you see in front of you are home for many.

Vista 6 (2.7 miles)

Vista 6 photo 1 Alligators are the largest reptiles in North America. The alligator dates back to the time of the dinosaurs and can grow up to 19 feet in length! It can be found in fresh and salt-water marshes, ponds, lakes, rivers, swamps and bayous.

Vista 7 (3.1 miles)

Vista 7 photo 2 This view of Shuttle Pads 39A and 39B and the Vehicle Assembly Building is breath taking. The VAB has more open cubic feet of space than any other building in the world. It has been known to rain and be very foggy INSIDE the top of the VAB. A launch pad very often will have a shuttle sitting beside it ready for a space mission. This is the closest you will get to this view without going to Kennedy Space Center itself. In a place like this where nature and technology come together and are able to co-exist, it's hard to resist taking a photo.       Up

Vista 8 (3.2 miles)

Dune blowout Directly in front of you to the north is a good example of the black mangrove. This plant is easily distinguished by its "breathing roots" projecting into the air from the mud. These roots help to aerate the plant when the water rises. Black mangroves also cope with their salty environment by their ability to excrete salt through the salt glands on the leaves. Take a close look at the leaves and maybe you can see the salt crystals. The black mangrove's fragrant flowers are a good source of nectar for the bees.

To the east is the ridge of the sand dune that protects the mainland from storms occurring at sea. Salt spray often fills the air while flocks of brown pelicans soar effortlessly in line about 20 feet above the dune. The photo shows a "blowout" of the dune caused by hurricane Irene in 1999.

Around the corner you will pass the numbered parking areas. Each one provides access to the Atlantic Ocean and one of the most beautiful beaches on this coast. This is the last place you will see 24 continuous miles of undeveloped beach on the East Coast of Florida. The yellow flowers along the dune and roadside are beach sunflowers. They are one of the important plants that help to stabilize the dune area with their roots.


Beach Road & Parking Areas

Communications disks Between Parking Areas 4 and 5, on the left, is a "hill" that is used by Kennedy Space Center and Canaveral Air Force Station as a camera site for launches. Cameras are brought in on a tracker and removed when operations are completed. Next to the "hill" is a lightning detector. Any lightning in the area is recorded by this device and information is relayed to Kennedy Space Center. As you know, lightning is one of the most dangerous phenomena in Florida and it's comforting to know we're monitored so closely in this area.       Up

Between Parking Areas 7 and 8 is Eddy Creek. This cross over to the beach is handicap accessible and also provides a pavilion. The pavilion is the only structure on the dune line and is built to be nature friendly. Instructional programs, picnics, and sometimes weddings are held here. To the west of the crossover (through the parking area) is the boat ramp that gives access to Mosquito Lagoon. This ramp leads to one of the most productive estuaries on the East Coast. There is a fishing dock here and a learning area for both children and adults. At any given moment, one may encounter a southern bald eagle or a manatee. If you prefer fishing in the lagoon, you may catch red fish, trout, or pompano. On the south side of the lagoon is a Timucuan Indian mound dating back thousands of years.

Eddy Creek wharf with fishermen
Eddy Creek Wharf
Saw Palmetto berries
Saw Palmetto
Gopher Tortoise
Gopher Tortoise
Sea Grapes
Sea Grapes
Eddy Creek lagoon side
Eddy Creek Mangroves

Continuing north along the Beach Road you will come to Parking Area 8. It is handicap accessible. There is a lifeguard on duty May 30-Sept.1. As you travel farther north (Parking Areas 9-11), the dune line gets lower and the vegetation sparse. The sea oats can be seen standing majestically on the top of the dune holding the sand in place with their long unseen roots. Why not check out the attractive sea grapes?

Parking Area 8 Area 8 pavilion
Area 8 looking north
Area 8 looking south

North camera site. At the very end of the road, is another camera site used during launches. This one houses a permanent array of cameras that can be positioned to capture important takeoff procedures. Beyond the locked gate is 12 miles of TOTALLY undeveloped beach and dune line, a rare example of Florida as it was before the first European explorers arrived.

A U-turn takes you back towards the entrance. This gives you a chance to enjoy this area called "Canaveral" from a different perspective. Stop and enjoy the beach, or try your luck fishing. Each trip is unique.

Before leaving the park, there is one more stop to make. Across from the ranger station and entrance booth you can pull off the road and enjoy the Florida scrub jay, one of the Park's federally protected species. The scrub oaks that surround you are home to many of these friendly blue and gray birds. The scrub jays survive in a family atmosphere in thickets of scrub oak, which hide their nests. They need patches of bare sand to bury their food supply: each bird buries thousands of scrub oak acorns and later digs them up to eat in winter and spring. The acorns the jays do not find can grow into trees.

Aerial view of seashore We hope you have enjoyed your trip to Canaveral National Seashore and that you took the time to stop and enjoy the beautiful beach and the ever important Mosquito Lagoon estuary. We also hope that we have provided you with just a taste of what this area holds. Come back and see us again -- there is always something new and different to explore.


Photos by Mike Peacock
Scrub Jay "V1" by Dave Rich
Aerial view from Canaveral N.S.

|| Vista: | 1 | 2 | 3 | Bio Road | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | Beach ||

Canaveral National Seashore Brochures
Titusville's Education Directory

Canaveral National Seashore - Titusville Florida

Canaveral National Seashore - National Park Service


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