Description - Guana River State Park was recently accquired by the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine
Research Reserve and is now included in the reserve. It is no longer a State Park.
Copyright: Florida Division of Recreation & Parks
Guana River State Park
The GTM Reserve - Guana River contains seventeen known significant historic or prehistoric cultural sites. Extensive shell middens exist, especially at Shell Bluff Landing and Wright's Landing, along the Tolomato River. The Shell Bluff site also contains an early I9th century Minorcan coquina block well and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Wright's Landing site is believed to be the location of a 17th century Spanish mission, the Nativity of our Lady of Tolomato. The site also contains a prehistoric earthen burial mound and has been nominated as a National Register site.
The land was purchased with Conservation and Recreational Lands and Save Our Coast funds by the State of Florida in 1984. The tract was privately owned and open to the public for hunting and fishing prior to state acquisition. During the period of private ownership, the Guana River was dammed in 1957, to flood the upstream marshes in order to enhance wintering waterfowl habitat. The result was the creation of the present-day Guana Lake. The lake water is brackish near its southern terminus at Guana Dam and gradually turns into a freshwater reservoir as one travels away from the dam. Both saltwater and freshwater fish species exist in the same body of water.
- Guana River is a 2,600-acre coastal reserve located on a barrier island midway between St. Augustine and Jacksonville, Florida on State Highway A1A. Bounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway (Tolomato River), the Guana Tract, which includes a Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission Wildlife Management Area to the north, comprises some 12,000 acres of public conservation and recreational land.
A cross section of the barrier island from east to west within the park would reveal the following natural communities: Atlantic Ocean beach, sand dunes, coastal strand/scrub, estuarine river (Guana River) with associated salt marshes and tidal creeks, maritime hardwood hammock, freshwater depression marshes, pond pine flatwoods and shell mound forest.
The park abounds in natural and cultural resources. Its diverse association of nine natural communities accounts for the presence of a wide variety of resident and migratory wildlife species. Because of the park's location near St. Augustine, it has inherited a rich history of Spanish, British and early American territorial occupation. Historic and prehistoric artifacts found here along the Tolomato River have yielded evidence of almost continuous human occupation for over 5,000 years.
Recreational activities at Guana River are primarily based on the rich variety of resources found here, rather than on any man-made facilities. There are no overnight camping facilities or developed picnic areas. The Guana Dam Use Area (Main Entrance) is open for fishing activities 24 hours per day and picnicking is certainly permitted anywhere in the park. If you are looking for a peaceful, still somewhat remote, and beautiful natural setting to enjoy the great outdoors, Guana River State Park is the place for you.
Recreation - Visitors to Guana River will find incredible birdlife. Over 230 species have been recorded at the park. Many live here year-round while many others enlist the site as a resting spot during spring and fall migrations. Another wonderful recreation at this undeveloped park is the fishing opportunity. Birds and humans alike wander into the waters of Guana Lake in search of shrimp, crabs, flounder and more. This segment of the park is so popular that the park service keeps it open 24 hours a day. Hiking and biking are popular along the more than nine miles of nature trails and old service roads that wind through the hammock, scrub and flatwoods in the interior portion of the park. Scenic vistas of interior freshwater marshes as well as salt marshes, tidal creeks and estuaries await those who seek the more peaceful aspects of a park visit.
Climate - Summers in northeastern Florida are hot and humid with frequent afternoon thunderstorms. Summer temperatures average in the low 80's Fahrenheit (27 - 28 Celsius). Mild winter temperatures average below 52 degrees Fahrenheit (below 11 Celsius). Freezing temperatures are infrequent but windy conditions are common. The average precipitation for the northeast area is between 52 and 56 inches per year. Light, loose fitting clothing is recommended in spring, summer and fall. Layered clothing is recommended for winter. Biting insects are common throughout the year and are especially heavy from late April through early June.
Guana River State Park flanks A1A, north of St. Augustine.