De Soto National Memorial

De Soto National Memorial

Quick Facts

De Soto National Memorial

Florida

(941) 792-0458

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

On a swelteringly hot day in May 1539, Spaniard Hernando de Soto splashed ashore at Tampa Bay intent on capturing the riches of La Florida by any means necessary. His army was alternately welcomed and opposed by Native American tribes throughout what is now the Southeastern United States in a four year, four thousand mile odyssey of intrigue, warfare, disease, and discovery. Walk along the nature trail to learn more and take in the wilderness around you, watch a living reenactment during the Living History Camp, walk along the beach or paddle around the cove, swim and relax at a beach or watch an orientation film in the theater.

The Visitor Center is open daily, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Park grounds are open dawn to dusk, but the parking lot gates close at 5 p.m. Vehicles left within the parking lot after 5 p.m. will remain there overnight and may be ticketed. Admission is free. De Soto National Memorial is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. The park may be closed during hurricane season if the arrival of a hurricane is imminent.

Map of De Soto

Latitude, Longitude: 27.523248, -82.644396

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Activities

  • Boating

    De Soto National Memorial is accessible by watercraft. The park is located on the south shore of the Manatee River, six miles downriver from Bradenton, Florida, near the mouth of Tampa Bay. An anchorage known as "The Cove" is located to the east of De Soto Point sheltered from the south and west, and partially sheltered from the north and east. The Cove is a popular temporary anchorage for small pleasure boats. Canoes and kayaks that may easily carried to the water by hand may be launched from the park beaches provided that vegetation, terrain, and wildlife is not disturbed. Loud motors and the creation of excessive wave action is prohibited. De Soto National Memorial does not have a boat ramp.

  • Bird Watching

    The seasonal migration of birds brings many bird watchers to the park in the fall and early spring. The exact timing of migration is dependent upon weather. Come to the visitor center to learn about what new and rare birds have been sighted recently.

  • Fishing

    Fishing with rod and reel is allowed within the park with a valid Florida drivers license. Fishermen are not allowed to stand on rip rap or to clear brush from any area in order to gain access to the water.

  • Hiking

    The Nature Trail winds along the shoreline and through several Florida ecosystems, including a mangrove forest like the one that De Soto's men would have encountered when they landed. Trails include interpretive signage and waysides that tell the story of the De Soto Expedition and the natural history of the area.

  • Historic Sites

    De Soto National Memorial has special living history presentations at specific times of the year. The Spanish encampment features daily presentations (weather permitting) from mid-December to the last weekend in April. The last day of the living history encampment also includes a special reenactment of De Soto's landing in 1539. Rangers and volunteers dressed in period clothing present talks on a variety of historical topics related to the De Soto Expedition and Florida's Native Americans. There are also weapons and Spanish and native craft demonstrations throughout the day.

    Living History Rangers and volunteers will re-enact the historic landing of Hernando De Soto on the beaches of Tampa Bay. The day will include talks and demonstrations on Life in the 16th Century, Florida's Native American heritage, and the Legacy of De Soto's expedition.

  • Picnicking

    A ten table picnic area is located adjacent to the parking lot and is available for visitors on a first come basis. Large groups and schools should call ahead to reserve seating. Grills and alcohol are not allowed within the park.

  • Water Sports

    Several small beaches are located within the park. The De Soto Point Beach is located west of De Soto Point and northwest of the Visitor Center. This beach is exposed to the current of the Manatee River and the waves of Tampa Bay. The Cove Beach located on the south side of De Soto Point and is more popular because it is sheltered from most current and waves. No life guards are on duty. Swimmers use park beaches at their own risk.

Seasonality/Weather

Winter is normally mild with occasional periods of temperatures in the 30s and 40s. Summer is normally hot and muggy with both temperature and humidity exceeding 90 F.

Park Partners

Friends of DeSoto National Memorial, Inc.

Friends of DeSoto National Memorial, Inc., was created on January 15, 2008, for the purpose of supporting a very special place - the National Park Service's DeSoto National Memorial.

The Memorial is located in Manatee County, FL, northwest of the City of Bradenton at the mouth of the Manatee River.

Friends of DeSoto National Memorial, Inc. is a private non-profit corporation organized under the laws of the State of Florida. Its purpose and mission statement is "To initiate, promote, and support the educational, historical, interpretive, and scientific activities of the DeSoto National Memorial."

Directions

Driving

From I-75: Take exit 220 SR 64/Manatee Ave, Gulf Beaches exit. Travel west on SR 64 for approximately 12 miles to 75th St. W. Turn right onto 75th St. W. travel north approximately 2 miles to the northern terminus 75th St. W. turns into De Soto Memorial Hwy and dead ends into the park.

From I-275: Take exit 5, follow US-19 into Bradenton. Turn west onto State Road 64, and proceed approximately five miles to 75th Street West. Turn right (north) onto 75th Street West, and proceed 2.5 miles to the park entrance and the terminus of 75th Street/ De Soto Memorial Highway.

From Cortez Ave travel west to 75th St. W. turn right. Travel north on 75th St. W. approximately 4 miles to northern terminus. 75th St. W. turns into De Soto Memorial Hwy and will dead end into the park.

Flying

Two major airports are located with a 50 minute drive of the park: Sarasota-Bradenton Airport (20 miles), and Tampa International Airport (50 miles).

Public Transportation

Manatee County Area Transit (MCAT) serves the area, however, no bus routes currently stop at the Memorial.

By Boat Boaters may access the park via the Manatee River. A small cove east (up river) of De Soto Point offers a temporary anchorage sheltered from south winds. Small craft may be beached at the cove, but boaters may not tie to protected vegetation including mangroves nor to park equipment including signs and benches. De Soto National Memorial does not have a boat ramp.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(941) 792-0458

Links