Rocky Bayou State Park a perfect place for family adventure

June 17, 2009

A view of Rocky Bayou from picnic area.
A view of Rocky Bayou from picnic area.

Paddle, hike, picnic and bird watch at State Park in Niceville

Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park, known by most as Rocky Bayou State Park sets nestled along State Road 20 in Niceville along Rocky Bayou. The park boasts 357 acres of wooded walking trails of sand pine scrub, longleaf pine, sand hill forests, pine flat woods and wetlands.

More than 100 different species of birds may be spotted in the diverse area, including kingfishers, ospreys, warblers and woodpeckers. Along one of the walking/biking trails, you will find an interpretive kiosk, which visually describes some of the many birds that can be found in the park.

Informative kiosk educates park goers on birds that can be spotted at park.
Informative kiosk educates park goers on birds that can be spotted at park.

The informative kiosk is a memorial to local bird enthusiast, Charlie Parkel, who was once a member of the Choctawhatchee Audubon Society, and whom documented his many bird sightings in the park. His documentation resulted in a checklist that can be acquired at the ranger station for those interested in documenting their birding.

There are 42 campsites, available (four are ADA compliant), picnic tables, grills and public restroom facilities.

There are many picnic areas with grills available as well in the day use area, along with a playground, providing a picture-perfect place for a family outing.

Kayaks and canoe rentals are available for two hours, half day, or all day. The park provides boat, paddle and life jacket.

The park also boasts a doublewide boat ramp with ample parking facilities for trucks with trailers. The boat ramp is popular with local boaters, as it easily provides quick access to the Choctawhatchee Bay.

Originally established as a State park in 1966, the area was a major gunnery and bombing site during World War II.

Cement test bomb.
Cement test bomb.

In the late 1950s, Colonel Fred Gannon, Director of Civil Engineering at Eglin Air Force Base, proposed to convert the former military practice range into a public-use area.

There remains a 500 lb. cement practice bomb on the park grounds which legend has, was dropped by Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle’s B-52 squadron as they prepared for the first retaliatory bombing of Japan.

For more information about Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park call 850-833-9144 or click here for their website.
Hours of Operation
8:00 a.m. to sunset

Park Fees
Admission Fees $5.00 per vehicle (2-8 people) and $4.00 per vehicle (single occupant).
Pedestrians, Bicyclists, extra Passengers, Passengers in vehicles with holder of Annual Individual Entrance Permit Admission Fee $1.00
Boat Ramp Fee $5.00 above admission fee
Picnic Pavilion Fee $75.00 per day
Campground information, click here.

Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park from Walton Outdoors on Vimeo.

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