Egmont Key National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1974 and protects a diverse community of animals and plants, many of which are either threatened or endangered, including nesting sea turtles, gopher tortoises, over 40,000 pairs of nesting birds, and other spectacular wildlife. In recent years the number of sea turtles nesting on Egmont Key has been greatly reduced due to severe beach erosion. Visitors are asked to be mindful of staked out sea turtle nests on the beach - please do not disturb the nests!
Strategically located at the mouth of Tampa Bay, this island refuge was once the site of the United States Army's Fort Dade, and abundant reminders of this unique military past can be found scattered throughout the island today. Silent gun batteries testify to a time when mighty battleships reigned supreme on the world’s oceans, and a brick carriage road meanders across the island recalling the days when mules and horses carried military personnel and their dependents on sunny picnics to the beaches. Over 4 miles of trails allow visitors to discover the interior of the island, as well as the beautiful north side and west side beaches. Along the trails you may encounter gopher tortoises, box turtles, yellow rat snakes, and of course many species of birds including ospreys, herons, skimmers, egrets, bald eagles, and more.
Visitors to Egmont Key can view the abundant wildlife, walk the roads of the abandoned town, explore the ruins of the gun batteries and visit the Guardhouse (when open), admire the historic lighthouse, or simply enjoy the Gulf of Mexico from Egmont's beautiful beach.
Please Note: the entire southern half of Egmont Key is a federally protected bird sanctuary, and is closed to the public. NO boat landing or foot traffic is permitted anywhere on the southern half of Egmont Key.
Interested in visiting Egmont Key? Hubbard's Marina runs a daily ferry service from the Fort De Soto boat ramp. Click the link below to learn more about the ferry service or to book a ticket!
Unfortunately, Egmont Key is eroding into the Gulf of Mexico at an alarming rate. The island has lost nearly 50 percent of it's land mass to coastal erosion and rising sea levels. The Save Egmont Key Initiative is focused on securing sand from the nearby Tampa Bay shipping channel for beach re-nourishment, with the aim of returning Egmont Key to its 1942 size.
Egmont Key NWR is disappearing at a rapid rate due to erosion from storm related high tides, high wind events, boat wakes, and sea level rise. If no steps are taken to prevent erosion, this important island will disappear into Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico forever. Help us Save Egmont Key!